(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – A new study shows an alarming increase in the number of children exposed to electronic cigarettes and the liquid nicotine used in them. From January 2012 through April 2015, the number of calls to poison control centers related to e-cigarette exposures among young children skyrocketed nearly 1,500 percent.
“By the end of the study we saw a call roughly every 3 hours to a poison control center for a child who had been exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “That’s about 7 children a day. That is an epidemic by any definition.”
Compared with children exposed to cigarettes, children exposed to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine were more than 5 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital for treatment and two-and-a-half times more likely to have a severe medical outcome.
“Most of the children who were exposed swallowed the liquid nicotine, which can cause seizures and respiratory arrest and even caused one child death during the 40-month study period,” Smith said.
Smith partnered with colleagues from the Central Ohio Poison Center to evaluate the number of calls related to e-cigarette and liquid nicotine exposures nationally. Citing their findings, experts are calling on the federal government to take swift regulatory action to protect children from these products.