Shocking rise in US children ingesting marijuana edibles: Study
The period between 2017 and 2021 saw an increase of 2,850 cases of children aged five or younger who consumed a cannabis-infused food product.
The incidence of US children accidentally swallowing cannabis edibles has nearly tripled in recent years as more states legalized recreational marijuana usage, as per a scientific study published Tuesday.
Over 200 children aged five or younger drank a cannabis-infused food product in 2017, according to a tally kept by health officials, compared to over 3,050 cases in 2021, as per a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
Edibles, which are commonly sold in the form of candy, chocolate, or cookies, appear tempting to children but might cause major injury due to the patients' low weight.
While no deaths were documented in the study's 7,000 occurrences of similar ingestions by children during a five-year period, 8% of children required critical care and almost 15% were hospitalized.
The median age of the affected children was three years.
The children's symptoms included central nervous system depression, unconsciousness, tachycardia, and vomiting. Intravenous fluids were administered to the patients.
When the study began in 2017, recreational marijuana was only permitted in eight US states plus Washington, whereas it was supposed to be legal in 18 states by the end of May 2022.
"These increases are believed to be associated with more states allowing adult, recreational use of cannabis," wrote the authors of the study as cited by AFP.
With over 90% of ingestions occurring at home, researchers advocated for caregivers to be educated on the importance of storing cannabis products in secured containers in a location unknown to children.
"Not only should cannabis products be placed in child-resistant packaging, but they should be in opaque packages with simple labels," the authors wrote. "In addition, there should be clear warning labels on the product cautioning against excessive use."