Energy drinks and supplements containing caffeine and other stimulants are popular in the U.S., even among children. Recent studies show that as many as 1 in 3 children age 12 years and older regularly consume energy drinks. But these products are not regulated by the FDA, nor are the effects on young bodies and brains. The American Academy of Pediatrics just released its conclusion that energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit and need further research and regulation.

Thousands of people are treated every year in emergency rooms for acute caffeine overdose, and about half of all cases are children. Side effects of energy drinks and supplements include high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, mood disturbances, seizures, stroke, paralysis and death. Although caffeine and similar chemicals can improve attention, its effect can cause the brain’s reward/addiction center to become dependent on caffeine. After becoming “hooked” on caffeine, stopping it can lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fatigue and irritability.

Read labels when you buy drinks for your kids. In addition to caffeine, be on the lookout for “taurine”, “guarana”, “ginseng”, “yohimbine”, and “L-carnitine.” Talk to your kids about the dangers of energy drinks and supplements, and set a good parent example by avoiding these products yourself.