Cheri Kauffman is one parent who wasn't aware of the potential dangers of the beverages. Though she hasn't had time to investigate them as thoroughly as she'd like, she allowed her children to have a limited amount of energy drink daily. She said her 12-year-old begged her for months to let him try Monster. Finally, on a family trip he wore her down and she allowed him to run into a gas station to buy one. "Now he's been drinking about a can a day for a month and he's much more energized and easier to deal with when he drinks part of a can in the morning, kind of like me after I've had a cup of coffee."
Kauffman confessed one of her biggest worries is whether the drinks are addictive. "It's the first thing he asks for when I pick him up from school. When we get low on it, it practically puts him into a panic," she admitted.
Tony Reynolds, who has six sons, said he has permitted his kids to drink up to one eight ounce can per day. "The younger kids -- 10 and 8 -- were bouncing off the walls and running in circles already so these really hyped them up. With older boys the energy spikes weren't as noticeable." He has stopped giving them to the two youngest but thought the older kids could digest them like it was coffee.
Other parents are clearly more concerned. When Kauffman's son gave a can of Monster to another child at school, the boy's mother was incensed. "She called the school and accused my son of 'dealing energy drinks'," Kauffman said. Since it's legal for anyone to buy the drinks and the school does not have an outright ban, the principal let him off with a warning.
Kauffman noted that the students have learned to hide them in their backpacks and drink them surreptitiously while at school.
Lipshultz felt that the safety concern about energy drinks is so important his report is being made free to the public on the American Academy of Pediatrics website. "While we know they can cause health risks, they have no known therapeutic effects and therefore there are no health reasons for drinking them," he pointed out.
He urges parents, educators and pediatricians to monitor their children's consumption. "They're asked cigarettes and drug use. They should be asked about energy drinks too."