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Exposure to e-cigarettes increases by 1,500% among children

The frequency at which young children are exposed to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine has increased dramatically between 2012 and 2015, according to recent research in Pediatrics.

“Despite the rapid increases in e-cigarette use and pediatric exposures, an analysis that focuses exclusively and comprehensively on the trends associated with exposures among young children nationally has not been published,” Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and colleagues wrote. “This is the first comprehensive multiyear study of e-cigarette, nicotine, and tobacco exposures among young children using a national database.”

The researchers utilized the National Poison Data System to analyze exposures associated with nicotine and tobacco products among children aged younger than 6 years. The dataset included all calls made to U.S. poison control centers from January 2012 through April 2015. The researchers grouped exposures into four groups: e-cigarettes, cigarettes, tobacco products and unknown products.

Overall, 29,141 calls — averaging 729 exposures per month — were made to poison control centers regarding nicotine-related products for children in the study group. Results showed that the monthly amount of e-cigarette exposures increased 1,492.9% during the study period. The researchers reported that children aged younger than 2 years accounted for 44.1% of e-cigarette exposures and 91.6% of cigarette exposures. Exposure to e-cigarettes represented 14.2% of all tobacco-related exposures among children aged younger than 6 years.

Smith and colleagues observed that children exposed to e-cigarettes had 5.2 times greater risk for admittance to a health care facility and a 2.6-fold greater risk for experiencing a severe outcome vs. children exposed to cigarettes.

“Swift government action is needed to regulate these products to help prevent child poisoning,” Smith and colleagues wrote. “Prevention strategies include public education; appropriate product storage and use away from children; warning labels; and modifications of e-cigarette devices, e-liquid, and e-liquid containers and packaging to make them less appealing and accessible to children.” – by David Costill

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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