A recent study has linked energy drinks to traumatic brain injury in teens. The study found that teens who reported a traumatic brain injury in the past year were seven times more likely to have consumed at least five energy drinks in the past week than those without a history of TBI.
Researchers also found that teens who reported sustaining a TBI within the past year were at least twice as likely to have consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol than teens who reported sustaining a TBI more than a year previously.
Neurosurgeon Michael Cusimano of St. Michael's Hospital said that this is significant because energy drinks have previously been associated with general injuries, but not specifically with TBI. Cusimano said energy drink consumption could interfere with recovery efforts for teens who have sustained a TBI.
Energy drinks, such a Red Bull and Rockstar, contain high levels of caffeine and change the chemical state of the body, which can prevent people from getting back on track after a TBI. He added that brain injuries among adolescents are particularly concerning because their brains are still developing.
At a time when energy drink consumption is rising among teens in Canada and the United States, the study also suggests that the caffeinated drinks are particularly linked with those who play sports.
According to the new study, a better understanding of the link between TBI and energy drinks could help medical professionals, parents, teachers and coaches understand how to better prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries. The study is published in PLOS ONE