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Beware of Caffeinated Chewing Gum

In the May 30, 2009 issue of The Lancet, Italian physicians warn that children are at risk of experiencing caffeine intoxication from chewing gum that contains caffeine.

The case study that prompted this warning involved a 13-year-old boy who was taken to the hospital after exhibiting strong aggression and agitation with no obvious cause.

The boy reported feeling abdominal discomfort, pins and needles in his legs, and painful urination.

Upon examination, health care workers found that the boy had an elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, and high blood pressure. They also noted that he was clearly agitated and restless.

Blood tests and a scan of his chest were normal, and he tested negative for recreational drugs.

The next day, the boy's mother returned to the hospital and reported finding two empty packages of "energy chewing gum" in her son's bag. Her son went through both packages within a four-hour period the previous day before his symptoms arose.

All told, the two packs of energy gum contained 320 milligrams of caffeine, which is a little more than the amount of caffeine found in three regular cups of coffee.

Given that the boy didn't normally eat or drink caffeinated products, 320 milligrams of caffeine in a 4-hour period was enough to cause caffeine intoxication.

The doctors noted that for a 45 kilogram (about 99 pounds) child, ingesting 320 milligrams of caffeine in a 4-hour period is about the same as a 70 kilogram (about 154 pounds) adult drinking 10 cups of tea.

Given that most children are not regularly exposed to caffeine, this case study warrants a warning to all parents to educate their children about the potential dangers of consuming large quantities of caffeinated products in a short time period. This would include energy chewing gum and energy drinks like Red Bull and Full Throttle.

The Canadian government recommends the following daily limits on caffeine intake for children:

  • 45 mg for children aged 4-6
  • 62.5 mg for children aged 7-9
  • 85 mg for children aged 10-12

Please note that these ranges equate to about the amount of caffeine found in one to two 12-ounce (355 ml) cans of cola a day.

Please share this post with family and friends who have children. Thank you.

Related Post:

Beware of Caffeine in Energy Drinks



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