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February 21, 2010

‘A mother’s worst nightmare’

Family believes teen’s seizure triggered by energy drink

By Scott Meeker

smeeker@joplinglobe.com

There’s a hole in Dakota Sailor’s memory — a gap from the evening of Thursday, Feb. 4, until late afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 6.

The Carl Junction teen remembers going to school that Thursday, drinking two high-powered energy beverages, and later falling asleep on the couch in the living room.

He next remembers waking up in St. John’s Regional Medical Center on Saturday when physicians removed him from a ventilator.

The 17-year-old junior — a defensive end and tackle for the Carl Junction High School football team — had no history of seizures, and a series of medical tests found no apparent cause for this one.

His mother, Monique Burrows, found him that Friday morning after hearing what she described as a strange “gurgling” noise. She said that she found her son on the couch, where he had aspirated and turned blue. She yelled for her husband, who performed CPR on Sailor until an ambulance arrived.

He spent five days in the hospital, Burrows said.

Doctors concluded that her son’s seizure was likely triggered by the energy drinks he had consumed that evening.

“It was upsetting, and it’s life-changing,” Sailor said. “I never thought a drink could do something like that to somebody.”

Caffeine toxicity

Since Red Bull was launched in 1997, energy drinks have become a multibillion dollar industry, with more than 500 new products launched in 2006 alone, according to Nutrition Journal.

Sailor was drinking NOS, a high-performance energy drink that is labeled an “energy supplement.” NOS is short for “nitrous oxide,” which can be used to boost speeds in race cars.

Each 16-ounce can contains two servings, and each serving contains 130 milligrams of caffeine; 1,000 mg of the organic acid taurine; 200 mg of the compound L-carnitine; 100 mg of inositol; and 50 mg of ginseng extract.

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