CHICAGO – Energy drinks are understudied, overused and can be dangerous for children and teenagers, warns a report by doctors who say kids shouldn’t use the popular products.

The potential harms, caused mostly by too much caffeine or similar ingredients, include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death, the authors write today in the medical journal Pediatrics. They reviewed data from the government and interest groups, scientific literature, case reports and articles in popular and trade media.

Dakota Sailor, 18, a high school senior in Carl Junction, Mo., says risks linked with energy drinks aren’t just hype.

Sailor had a seizure and was hospitalized for five days last year after drinking two large energy drinks — a brand he’d never tried before. He said his doctor thinks caffeine or caffeine-like ingredients may have been to blame.

The report says some cans have four to five times more caffeine than soda, and Sailor said some kids he knows “drink four or five of them a day.”

The report’s authors want pediatricians to routinely ask patients and their parents about energy drink use and to advise against drinking them.

“We would discourage the routine use” by children and teenagers, said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrics chairman at the University of Miami’s medical school. He wrote the report with colleagues from that center.

The report says energy drinks often contain ingredients that can enhance the jittery effects of caffeine or that can have other side effects including nausea and diarrhea. It says they should be regulated as stringently as tobacco, alcohol and prescription medicines.

The report focuses on nonalcoholic drinks but emphasizes that drinking them along with alcohol is dangerous.

Today’s paper doesn’t quantify drink-related complications or deaths. It cites reports on a few deaths in Europe of teenagers or young adults who mixed the drinks with alcohol, or who had conditions such as epilepsy that may have increased the risks.

Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy at the American Beverage Association, an industry group, said the report “does nothing more than perpetuate misinformation” about energy drinks.