E-Cigarette Poison Center Calls Related To Kids Rise

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A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds that calls to U.S. poison centers about young children swallowing (confounder: also inhaling or touching) e-cigarette liquid climbed from from January 2012 through April 2015.

Calls totaled 4,128 during the study, 14 early on to 223 by the end of the chosen timeframe, which mirrors the increased popularity of the products. Most children were age 2 or younger.

Is that alarming? It is to the New York Times but kids 2 and under account for 53 percent of medicine-related calls to poison centers, which are far more dangerous. Almost half of the 1.34 million calls to poison centers for children each year are related to medicine.

The total number of calls for nicotine liquid during the over three year period was less than what happens in four days with medicine, yet Dr. Joan Shook, chief safety officer at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston told the New York Times the e-cigarette liquid poisonings were "a huge public health issue." Unlikely, since most "vaping" products now have child-resistant packaging, which was not the case in 2012.

Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and senior author of the paper, went even further: "This is an epidemic by any definition."

Any definition except the actual definition of epidemic, that is.

Houston and Columbus must be far safer than the rest of the country if under 80 kids nationwide - that's 10 percent of the kids that will drown just this year - are reason to declare this a huge public health issue. Still, parents need to use some common sense about nicotine liquid the same way they should be careful about leaving Whisky or Vicodin where a toddler can get it. Those last two are actually huge public health issues that won't get media attention.