Chewing gum containing caffeine can be dangerous if used in excessive quantities by children and teenagers, doctors have warned.
Highlighting the case of a 13-year-old in the Italian city of Naples, they called for greater control on the use and sale of stimulant gum to youngsters.
The agitated and aggressive boy was taken to hospital with increased breathing and heart rates and high blood pressure. His condition improved overnight and he was discharged, but his mother later returned with two empty packets of stimulant chewing gum she found in his bag.
The packs would have contained around 320 milligrams of caffeine and her son had confessed to eating them all through a four-hour period.
Doctors diagnosed his condition as caffeine intoxication worsened by the fact that since he was not a regular drinker of tea or coffee he was even more sensitive to the compound.
Writing in the The Lancet they said: ‘The use of stimulant chewing gum should be considered in cases of caffeine intoxication. The risk of intoxication is high in children and teenagers in view of general caffeine-naivety, and the unrestricted sale of these substances.’