Caffeine is a staple in the lives of people young and old, with coffee and sugary drinks helping them power through mornings and late nights. But after caffeine claimed the life of a high school student last month, some of you may want to start revaluating your daily intake.
According to CNN, Davis Allen Cripe, a 16-year-old high school student from South Carolina, consumed just three caffeinated beverages within the span of two hours—a cafe latte, a large Diet Mountain Dew, and an energy drink—which caused what was ultimately a fatal cardiac event. Just over three hours after he purchased the first latte at a local McDonald's, Cripe was pronounced dead.
Heart failure tends to be thought of as a problem for older and less healthy people, but Cripe's autopsy showed no conditions or undiagnosed issues that would have left him particularly susceptible. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts summed up the nature of the situation, and stressed how it could have happened to any kid who binged on drinks like these.
"This was not an overdose," said Watts. "We lost Davis from a totally legal substance. Our purpose here today is to let people know, especially our young kids in school, that these drinks can be dangerous, and be very careful with how you use them, and how many you drink on a daily basis."
The rise in popularity of new types of caffeinated drinks has changed the way caffeine is consumed. Soda consumption has reportedly declined precipitously amongst young people, but coffee and energy drinks now represent a bigger portion of the market share. Energy drinks in particular have drawn the ire of researchers and nutritionists as they've become more of a staple amongst young people.
"It’s biologically active," said Dr. Steven Lipshultz of the University of Miami. "You have a child take an energy drink and his heart rate goes up, his blood pressure goes up. It affects almost every part of his body.”
Even if you're not consuming energy drinks on a regular basis, the timeline of Cripe's death should strike fear into people everywhere. It only took a brief period of rapid consumption to cause the death of an otherwise healthy kid, and unlike with more forbidden substances, most people don't think too much about how often they down caffeine. Just ask Cripe's father how quickly everything went wrong.
"Like all parents, we worry about our kids as they grow up," said Sean Cripe. "We worry about their safety, their health, especially once they start driving. But it wasn't a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink."