Caffeine overdose kills 16-year-old, doctors warn parents

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Local doctors are urging parents to limit the amount of caffeine their children are consuming.

This is in light of a 16-year-old who died of a caffeine overdose in South Carolina last month.

After drinking three different types of caffeinated drinks: a large Diet Mountain Dew, a café latte from McDonalds, and an energy drink, David Allen Cripe, who was only 16-years-old, died of a heart arrhythmia.

“It absolutely can happen,” Paul Horvath, an emergency physician at Mayo Clinic System, said about this sort of tragedy.

Just 3 caffeinated drinks took away 1 life; a scary and rare scenario, but something that could happen to your kids.

“Caffeine has a lot of effects, not only the physiological effects, the complications, the overdose kind of stuff, but it really messes with your sleep cycle,” Horvath said. “As a parent, I would worry about kids functioning well in school and having other effects.”

Horvath says caffeine is in a number of different things, but energy drinks are the ones he says you should be aware of the most. As far as the amount of caffeine your kids should have, Horvath thinks there’s an answer.

“I’d say, ideally, the answer is no - zero,” Horvath said. “Realistically, keep it as minimal as possible.”

Local parents I spoke with Tuesday say they don’t have strict limits on the caffeine they allow their kids to drink, but it’s something they keep a close eye on.

Liz Bruring is a mother of a 3 and 5-year-old. She says she’s waiting to give them their first experience with caffeine.

“When they start to get a little older, maybe middle school, probably closer to high school,” Bruring said. “If they go to a friend’s house, they have caffeine there, soda or something like that, that’s fine. We won’t have it at the house.”

“I don’t buy soda, so we never have it in the house because I know that’s the first thing they would go for,” Judy Wibel of Eau Claire said. “If we go out to eat, we’ll get a soda, but I just don’t keep it around.”

Barb Piper, a retired nurse, says she didn’t allow her kids to drink caffeine very often when they were younger.

“I think it should be limited because they get a little hyper,” Piper said. “I know my children didn’t get a whole lot because they would stay up too late at night. They probably had a can of Coke probably every 2-3 days.”

We reached out to Pepsi Company and McDonald’s for comment, but have yet to hear back. We don’t know what kind of energy drink Cripe drank before he died.

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