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Study Finds Children at Risk, Monster Energy Drink Trial Set for April

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Detroit, MIIt’s a damning commentary on the energy drink sector and what it can mean to the health and even survivability of children. A university study has revealed that more than half of roughly 4,800 reported cases of harmful effects from energy drinks involved accidental consumption by children less than six years of age. Meanwhile, a wrongful death lawsuit allegedly stemming from Monster drink contents is set to begin at Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda sometime in April.

Energy drinks have become popular with students, adolescents and young adults who crave the instant burst of energy delivered by a host of energy drink brands combining high levels of caffeine with various herbs and natural ingredients. Monster Beverage Corp. is a leader in that sector. It also appears that Monster has become somewhat of a leader in the headline department: Monster Energy Drink Deaths and Hospitalizations, or headlines to that effect, have been seen.

Case in point is a lawsuit recently settled by a plaintiff whose son suffered a non-fatal heart attack in November 2011 following consumption of a Monster Energy beverage. Jason Hamric, an otherwise healthy adolescent, was just 16 when he experienced his Monster Energy Drink injury.

Anais Fournier was not so lucky. Born with a heart condition, the 14-year-old from Hagerstown, Maryland, nonetheless required no medication or restriction to her diet or physical activity, and saw her cardiologist once per year. All seemed well. And yet Anais succumbed to cardiac arrhythmia while watching TV at home with her family on December 17, 2011. Unbeknownst to her family, Anais had consumed two Monster Energy drinks over a 24-hour period: one the day before she died while hanging with friends at the local mall, and a second the following day. She died that night, at 14.

The Fournier case was referenced by Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrics Chair for Wayne State University and chief pediatrician for DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan. According to The Detroit News (1/26/15), Lipshultz is the lead author of a recent study that looked into 4,780 calls to poison control centers associated with consumption of energy drinks covering a three-year period from October 2010 through September 2013.

“Even though there may be millions sold of these every year, 5,000 people having side effects and many having gone to the hospital - that’s not acceptable,” he said, in comments published in The Detroit News.

The older the child, the more likely that side effects were serious, the DMC study found. About two percent of children aged 5 and younger experienced moderate-to-severe side effects, compared with seven percent of 6- to-12-year-olds, 33 percent of teens and 64 percent of those aged 20 and older. Moderate effects are poisoning symptoms that require treatment, while severe effects are life-threatening symptoms or poisoning that markedly disables an individual, said Lipshultz, who presented his findings at the American Heart Association’s 2014 Science Sessions this past November.

The mother of Anais Fournier, Wendy Lane, told The Detroit News that her daughter was simply at home, leisurely watching TV, when she suddenly went into cardiac arrest - allegedly from Monster caffeine levels. “She was gasping for air like a fish out of water,” said Lane. “My husband and I got her on the floor and started CPR, and called 911. These things are dangerous, and they should definitely not be in the hands of kids or any minor.”

The Detroit News noted that caffeine poisoning can occur at levels higher than 400 mg a day in adults. Energy drinks - including Monster caffeine levels - can contain up to 400 mg of caffeine per can, compared with 100-150 mg in a typical cup of coffee.

The Monster Energy Drink Deaths and Hospitalizations wrongful death lawsuit expected to start in April is Paula Morris v. Monster Beverage Corp, Case Number RG13685028, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda

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