The number of young children unintentionally exposed to edible cannabis products in the United States jumped 1,375% over a 5-year period, according to a new analysis of data from poison control centers.
In 2017, the centers received 207 reports of children ages 5 and under who had consumed edible cannabis. In 2021, 3,054 such cases were reported, according to the study, which was published online January 3 at Pediatrics.
Many children experienced clinical effects, such as: depression In the central nervous system (CNS), poor coordination, confusion, agitation, increased heart rate, or dilated pupils. There were no reports of deaths.
“These exposures can cause significant toxicity and are responsible for an increased number of hospitalizations,” write study co-author Marit S. Tweet of Southern Illinois University College of Medicine in Springfield and colleagues.
They noted that about 97% of exposures occurred in residences – 90% in a child’s home – and about half of the cases involved children between the ages of 2 and 3.
Check national trends
twenty-one countries They approved recreational cannabis For people 21 years of age and older.
Previous research has shown that calls to poison centers and emergency department visits for children’s cannabis consumption increased in some countries After the drug became legal in those jurisdictions.
To assess national trends, the Tweet group analyzed cases in the National Toxicology Data System, which tracks toxic exposures reported to poison control centers in the United States.
Over a 5-year period, they identified 7,043 cases of exposure to edible cannabis by children younger than 6 years old. In 2.2% of cases, the drug contained Significant impactdefined as either life-threatening or residual disability. In 21.9% of cases, the effect was considered to be moderate, with symptoms more pronounced, prolonged, or systemic than minor effects.
About 8% of children have been admitted to intensive care units. 14.6% were admitted to non-critical care units.
Of the 4,827 cases for which there was information about the clinical effects of exposure and the treatments used, 70% had CNS depression, including 1.9% with “more serious CNS effects, including CNS depression or coma,” according to the report. .
Patients also experienced ataxia (7.4%), agitation (7.1%), confusion (6.1%), tremor (2%), and seizures (1.6%).
Other common symptoms included tachycardia (11.4%), vomiting (9.5%), mydriasis (5.9%), and respiratory depression (3.1%).
Exposure treatments included intravenous fluids (20.7%), foods or snacks (10.3%), and oxygen therapy (4%). Some patients also received naloxone (1.4%) or charcoal (2.1%).
The researchers report that “the total number of children requiring intubation during the study period was 35, or approximately 1 in 140.” “Although this was a relatively rare event, it is important for clinicians to be aware that life-threatening consequences can develop and may require surgical supportive care measures.”
seductive and toxic
For young children, edible cannabis can be especially tempting and toxic. The researchers write that the food can “resemble common foods such as candy, chocolate, cookies, or other baked goods.” Kids won’t realize, for example, that a single chocolate bar might contain multiple servings of the adult 10mg THC.
Poison centers are making more calls about older children’s use of edible cannabis.
Adrienne Hughes, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland, Found recently Many cases of intentional misuse and abuse by teens involve edible forms of cannabis.
“while Marijuana It carries a low risk of severe toxicity, can be intoxicating to the point of misjudgment, risk of falling or other injury, and sometimes panic reaction in the novice user and unsuspecting children who ingest these products by mistake,” Hughes said. Medscape Medical News.
Tweet wrote that measures to keep food items away from children could include changing the way products are packaged, limiting the maximum dose of medication per package, and educating the public about the risks to children. They highlight Position statement for 2019 From the American College of Medical Toxicology that includes recommendations for responsible storage habits.
Hughes reiterated one suggestion made in the position statement: Parents should consider keeping their cannabis products closed.
The researchers did not disclose any relevant financial relationships.
Pediatrics. Published online on January 3, 2023. full text