Hospitals are seeing an increase in cases of children accidentally ingesting marijuana products. Since THC—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—isn’t safe for children, this is posing new challenges in the healthcare community, and for parents alike.
The KiDS Emergency Department (ED) at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone has experienced this increase firsthand, says Ethan S. Wiener, MD, clinical associate professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine and Department of Pediatrics, and serving as the director of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and chief of service for the KiDS ED.
“Edibles are of particular concern. Often packaged like any other type of candy, they’re naturally tempting for children,” says Dr. Wiener. “Young children can’t tell the difference, and because they’re more prone to overdose, the harm can be considerable to kids who accidentally ingest THC.” Overdose can result in significant nausea and vomiting, and unresponsiveness leading to respiratory problem. In the most severe cases this may require the use of a ventilator.
As a result, taking precautions has become necessary for the community. “Just as you wouldn’t leave an open bottle of alcohol within reach of your kids, the same logic should be applied to marijuana products,” says Vincent J. Palusci, MD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics and chair of the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital Child Protection Program. “Keep all products locked away. Going that extra mile now will help protect kids from potential health risks.”
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