More kids in hospitals for eating marijuana edibles and treats containing THC
Every year, thousands of young children use and are sickened by edible marijuana products, which may look like regular candy or cookies – with nearly a quarter being admitted to hospital, according to a new study.
The number of children under the age of 6 – most were 2 or 3 – who accidentally consumed cannabis edibles rose from 207 cases in 2017 to 3,014 cases in 2021, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.
Cases of children consuming marijuana treats have increased as more states pass laws allowing cannabis products for medical and recreational use. Currently, 37 states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 21 states allow some recreational use by adults.
Court case:To Silence Critics, A Plastic Surgeon Posted Fake Reviews And Asked Patients To Sign NDAs
First meteor shower of 2023:How to watch the Quadrantids meteor shower peak
What are marijuana edibles?
The availability of marijuana edibles has increased since 2014, when Colorado became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Edibles made with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, include gummies, chocolates, lollipops, cookies, and other baked goods.
“Many edibles containing THC look like treats that a child could easily mistake for a simple snack,” said study co-author Dr. Marit Tweet, an emergency physician and medical toxicologist at Southern Illinois. University School of Medicine, in a statement accompanying the study.
And kids don’t realize that each product can contain multiple doses of perhaps 10 milligrams of THC. “A child would not recognize the need to stop after 1 bite/segment/piece,” say the researchers. “Given the lower body weight of pediatric patients, a higher milligram/kilogram dose is ingested, putting children at increased risk of toxicity from these exposures.”
How many children who have eaten marijuana edibles have been admitted to hospital?
Of more than 7,000 cases of childhood exposure to cannabis edibles reported to the National Poison Data System from 2017 to 2021, researchers found:
- 573 children were admitted to intensive care units
- 1,027 children were admitted to non-critical care units
- 2,550 children were seen in the emergency room
- 625 cases refused care/were not hospitalized
- 2,268 unknown result/no follow-up
More than half of the children were toddlers, between the ages of 2 and 3, according to the study. Over 90% got the edibles at home.
What symptoms of cannabis poisoning have been observed in children?
Those children admitted to intensive care units generally had slowed breathing and reduced heart rates, but a few fell into comas, the researchers found.
Other symptoms experienced by children:
- breathing problems
- rapid heart rate
- poor muscle control
No deaths were reported during the five years studied.
What is everyone talking about? :Subscribe to our trendy newsletter to receive the latest news of the day
Why are more children being exposed to THC gummies and other cannabis edibles?
Overall, the number of cases increased as more states legalized medical and recreational cannabis products, Tweet said.
“The problem is probably underestimated,” she told USA TODAY. “If children ingest these edibles at home and caregivers do not contact poison control centers or go to a healthcare facility where a provider could then call the case, that case would go unreported. If a child presents to a health care facility after a mild exposure and the health care provider feels comfortable caring for the child without requiring advice from the poison control center, these cases may also go unreported.”
Still, as marijuana has become more widely available legally, parents may have felt less stigma in seeking help from poison control centers and healthcare providers, Tweet said.
Additionally, the last two years of the study occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and daycare and school closures could have led to increased cases and hospitalizations, the researchers said.
The results aren’t surprising, said Dr. Brian Schultz, a pediatric emergency physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. He previously worked at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, where he and his colleagues treated children who ate jarred foods “almost daily,” he told The Associated Press.
What measures can reduce children’s exposure to marijuana edibles?
Unintentional exposure to marijuana usually occurs at home. Parents should therefore store all edibles safely and avoid buying them in packages that look like traditional treats or candies, said Kevin Osterhoudt, attending physician at the emergency department and medical director of the poison control center of the children’s hospital. of Philadelphia on the American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org website.
“Never use marijuana edibles in front of children, whether for medical or recreational purposes,” he said. “Seeing the products could create a temptation for children.”
Locked cabinets that are out of reach of young children are best, Tweet said. And store edibles away from the kitchen or other areas where other foods and snacks are stored or eaten, she said.
The researchers suggest changing product packaging and labeling, as well as regulating the maximum dose allowed in a package.
Some states like Illinois require child-unfriendly product packaging, and the total amount of THC allowed per package is limited, Tweet said.
Contributor: The Associated Press
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.