Stay away from energy drinks, doctors say

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In a new report, a large group of American doctors urge kids and teens to avoid energy drinks and only consume sports drinks in limited amount.

The recommendations come in the wake of a national debate over energy drinks, which experts fear may have side effects.

"Children never need energy drinks," said Dr. Holly Benjamin, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who worked on the new report. "They contain caffeine and other stimulant substances that aren't nutritional, so you don't need them."

And kids might be more vulnerable to the contents of energy drinks than grownups.

"If you drink them on a regular basis, it stresses the body," Benjamin told Reuters Health. "You don't really want to stress the body of a person that's growing."

For the new recommendations, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers went through earlier studies and reports on both energy drinks and sports drinks, which don't contain any stimulants.

They note that energy drinks contain a jumble of ingredients -- including vitamins and herbal extracts -- with possible side effects that aren't always well understood.

While there aren't many documented cases of harm directly linked to the beverages, stimulants can disturb the heart's rhythm and may lead to seizures in very rare cases, Benjamin said.

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