|Photo by Lindsay Fox|
Indiana University Emergency Medicine/Pediatrics
Originally Published: Modern Resident, June/July 2015
Nicotine toxicity is a well-described clinical entity that often occurs in children who accidentally ingest cigarette buds or nicotine patches. However, a new form of nicotine has the potential to cause serious clinical symptoms, including death.
E-cigarettes use a form of liquid nicotine of varying concentrations that come in individual vials. E-cigarette use is on the rise across the United States, and unfortunately, the liquid nicotine is both easily accessible and appealing to young children. These liquid cartridges are often packaged in a tempting way, with one such cartridge described as having a cartoon monkey holding grapes on the front. The packaging is not regulated by the FDA and therefore has no child proof regulations for packaging. The liquid itself is also appealing for young children, and flavors include cotton candy, bubble gum, fruit, mint and chocolate.[1,2]
The CDC reported a significant increase from 2010 to 2014 of calls to poison centers regarding nicotine exposure. They also reported that e-cigarette exposure compared to regular cigarette exposure was about 1.5 times more likely to cause an adverse health effect. Among the calls to poison centers during this time period, 51% involved young children.