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Caffeine-gum overdose boy recovers

An overdose of caffeine gum has resulted in a 13-year-old schoolboy spending the night in hospital.

He apparently chewed through two packets of the product, containing the same amount of caffeine as three cups of coffee, in just four hours.

His Italian mother raised the alarm after he became unusually agitated and aggressive, with rapid breathing, a fast heart rate and raised blood pressure.

Dr Francesco Natale, from the Second University of Naples, writes in The Lancet medical journal: "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."

After an overnight stay without treatment, the boy's condition improved enough for him to be discharged from the Monaldi Hospital in Naples.

Caffeine gum has become increasingly popular after being first promoted by the US military, who began using it to help soldiers stay awake.

It is billed as working up to five times faster than coffee because much of the caffeine is absorbed under the tongue rather than through the digestive tract.

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The Lancet