Lebron James May Endorse Them, but Medical Experts Warn Against Caffeine Sheets

Filed under: In The News

Lebron James may get his morning jolt of caffeine from a dissolvable strip, but you might want to stick to coffee or even soda pop.

Practically freebasing the stuff from a gel strip you put in your mouth? Maybe not such a good idea. And, pediatricians tell ABC News, it can be particularly harmful to children and teenagers.

James shills for Sheets, described as "energy strips" comparable to a cup of coffee. Put one on your tongue, let it dissolve and you go from zero to dancing the Charleston in a couple of seconds. The manufacturers at Purebrands pitch it as "the new way to do energy" and promise "zero crash."

Not so fast there, Speedy.

Medical experts warn ABC News that teenagers -- already wired on caffeine -- could get palpitations, anxiety and sleep disturbance from Sheets.

"It's a really bad idea," Rosalind Cartwright, professor emerita in the neurology science division at Rush University in Chicago and a sleep expert, tells ABC. "One hundred milligrams is not that much. But if used repeatedly, it can cause all kinds of trouble.

"It will give them a jolt and somewhat better focus and attention for a short while, but it has a pretty steep dropoff, and if you keep taking it, you get enormously sleepy afterwards."

Caffeine is notoriously hazardous for teenagers with heart conditions or attention-deficit disorder.

ABC reports the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report this month recommending that teenagers and children avoid energy and sports drinks, which carry no benefit and some risk. That includes all caffeinated drinks, including colas and coffee.

John Herman, a professor in sleep medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, tells ABC caffeine is pretty benign most of the time. It's even used in newborns to increase arousal.

"But nothing should be packaged that could appeal to children," Herman tells the network. "It should specify dosage and instructions on how to use it and what is the maximum. A high dose of anything -- sugar or salt -- becomes harmful.

"If it's red-colored and it's sweet, kids might take three, four or five of them and go into an anxiety attack and palpitations," he adds. "Kids get anxious when they take caffeine and it could put them over the top."

Consider the cautionary tale of Cary Houghton Anderson of Oak Harbor, Wash.

ABC reports she rushed her husband, Cody, to an urgent-care clinic after he took an energy powder that delivered 100 milligrams of caffeine. That's the equivalent of two tabs of Sheets.

A few hours later, he lost his equilibrium and became nauseated.

"He lay down on the couch, not asleep but acting comatose," his wife tells ABC. "And that night it really kicked in. He needed a bucket by the side of his bed."

What if her kids mistook Sheets for candy, she tells the network.

"I can just imagine if they thought it was gum," she says. "They rip off my purse for their little sugar friends and hide under the bed and chew it. I am certain if I was taking something like [Sheets] they would definitely think it was candy. It would be nasty."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.