E-Cigarette Poisoning Up Substantially Among Young Children, Calls To Poison Hotlines Up 1,500 Percent

E-cigarette use has grown exponentially over the past few years, but their increased popularity has resulted in some dire consequences. The number of young children poisoned from the nicotine contained within the vaping device liquid has also increased.

According to a report published on Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of children under 6-years-old being exposed to the e-liquid went up dramatically from January 2012 to April 2015. Using information provided by the National Poison Data System, researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital were looking to find out how often children are in contact with tobacco, nicotine, and vaping products.

During the three-year period, poison control centers received 29,141 calls about young children who were exposed to these products. While most of the exposures were specifically cigarettes, the researchers noticed a significant uptick in e-cigarette contact.

In January 2012, the number of children poisoned by e-liquid was 14. By April 2015, that number had risen to 223, nearly 1,500 percent higher. Almost 50 percent of the kids were less than 2-years-old.

New study finds more children suffering from e-cigarette poisoning.
Poison control call centers nationwide have reported a significant increase in children consuming nicotine liquid. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

According to the data, children who found the e-juice often swallowed it and were 2.6 times more likely to suffer severe health problems as other children who got a hold of traditional cigarettes. One child actually died from e-cigarette poisoning.

Study co-author Dr. Gary Smith said the high concentration of liquid nicotine in e-cigarette fluid puts children particularly at risk.

“We have known for decades how toxic liquid nicotine can be for kids. Unfortunately, this study has findings that bore this out. We saw kids that had coma, children with seizures and even death within this 40 month period. We shouldn’t put a poison that’s been known for decades to cause harm among children in homes across the country in non child-resistant containers that have flavors and labels.”

Smith added that young children tend to put things in their mouths while learning about their environment and believes flavored vaping liquid could easily be mistaken for candy. The liquids should be in child-resistant containers, and parents should be more aware of the potential for poisoning through ingestion, he said.

Ray Story, the founder and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said it is up to the parents, not the industry, to keep the product out of the hands of children. He noted that there are many other poisonous products in a typical household.

“If you look at some of the commercials currently, it says lock up your laundry detergent because these things look like candy,” Story said during an interview with ABC News.

Referring to the data used in the study, Story noted that way more calls are made to poison hotlines about cigarettes and other tobacco products than electronic cigarettes. He also said vaping products are a much healthier product than cigarettes and adults must be more conscientious when handling and storing the liquid.

The study findings were released just as vaping products are coming under the watchful eye of the federal government. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new e-cigarette regulations last week that change how the products are labeled, manufactured, and sold.

E-cigarettes are causing an increasing number of poisonings among children.
Some experts want e-cigarette liquid to be labeled as a poison. [Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

According to Dr. Hilary Tindle, the director of the Vanderbilt Center for Tobacco, Addictions and Lifestyle, the amount of nicotine in the e-cigarette liquids varies from product to product. The new federal guidelines will most likely regulate how much nicotine is contained in the liquid, making the level uniform across the industry.

“Some of these products with the e-liquid, they have four times a lethal dose for a child in a fifth of a teaspoon. It’s really scary when you think about how many people are using these products.”

The possibility of e-cigarette poisoning should be a topic of discussion with a pediatrician, Tindle added. She encourages parents to keep the nicotine-laced liquid out of sight or at a level a child cannot reach, the same as other hazardous products like bleach or ammonia.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]