Parents who use e-cigarettes put their kids at risk
As electronic cigarette sales continue to climb, a new study suggests that many parents who smoke e-cigarettes don’t realize the liquid nicotine, or “e-liquid,” used in them can be hazardous to their children.
Thirty-six percent of parents who used e-cigarettes didn’t lock up or use childproof caps on their e-liquid, according to a study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“Any exposure – oral or topical – to the liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can potentially be very dangerous for children,” says Dr. Andrea Kane, an Advocate Medical Group pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Nicotine can even be deadly for children, as the liquid is quite potent.”
The e-liquid’s bright colors and tempting flavors can be attractive to small children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Ingesting even small amounts of the liquid or having the liquid make contact with the skin can cause illness, including severe nausea and vomiting. Consuming as little as a teaspoon can sometimes prove fatal.
In 2014, 3,783 exposures to liquid nicotine were reported, with just over half of these exposures occurring in children under the age of 6. This is a sharp increase compared to 2013, when there were just 1,543 exposures, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Through July of 2015, nearly 2,000 cases had already been reported.
“The easiest way to lower risk is to store e-liquid out of the reach of children,” study author Dr. Jane Garbutt said in a press release. “Open counters and shelves, unlocked drawers, and purses and bags aren’t safe storage places.”
With just 15 percent of parents using e-cigarettes reporting they had told their child’s pediatrician about their habit and only 6 percent of e-cigarette smokers reporting that doctors had discussed use and storage of e-cigarettes, Dr. Garbutt encouraged pediatricians to become better educated about e-cigarettes and to make parents who use them aware of the potential dangers of e-liquids.
“These are largely avoidable risks, but because e-cigarettes are relatively new, many people – including pediatricians – aren’t aware of the dangers or the steps that should be taken to protect children from them,” said Dr. Garbutt.
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