Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
A rise in childhood vaping: What you need to know about the risks for kids and teens
First, they were eating Tide Pods and posting their dares on social media. Now, young people are following the dangerous trend of vaping. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that we are hearing about way too often on the evening news. Videos and pictures of young people confined to hospital beds are surfacing left and right following their use of e-cigarettes. Some of those young people are in a comatose state and some have even died. So, why is this happening to our youth and how can we stop it?
You may have heard of the well-known e-cigarette company like Juul. Companies like this were created for adult smokers who are trying to find ways to quit. However, teens are finding these vaping tools as a hip device to carry around in their pockets and smoke with their peers. Some are hard to detect being the size and feel of a USB jump drive, a pen, or a key fob.
The internet seems to be the culprit when it comes to the easy accessibility of tobacco products found in e-cigarettes.
Those who are under the age of 18 can literally just check a box on any vendor website saying they’re above the legal age, but web providers have only limited ways of checking that fact.
I think a big concern for parents and guardians is the potential affect tobacco use can have in their child’s brain development.
Early nicotine use can cause addictive behaviors later in life.
Here’s a startling statistic :: 3.6 million adolescents admitted to vaping in our country in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Also, a study by the National Youth Tobacco Survey shows a total of 21% of high school children and 5% of middle school children reported using an e-cigarette within the past 30 days.
A mom’s worst nightmare
Young people see this as an innocent activity, but it’s quite dangerous. E-cigarettes have a liquid-containing cartridge, which is usually filled with nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals. In some cases, vaping liquid also contains THC or CBD oil. The liquid is heated into a vapor, and then inhaled into the lungs.
The vapor from these e-cigarettes contains many harmful substances which can cause injury to the lungs. In addition to pneumonia and lung damage, e-cigarettes have also been associated with injuries from explosions and burns.
There are more than 7,000 flavors of vaping fluid available to e-cigarette users. The variety of flavors and colors makes this substance more attractive to young people. As little as half of a teaspoon of vaping liquid can be lethal if ingested by a young child. The liquid can also cause nicotine poisoning if absorbed through the skin.
According to the CDC, there have been 805 cases of lung injury and 12 deaths due to vaping thus far in 2019.
Starting the conversation
It’s time we start the conversation about vaping with our young people, it’s time to go tobacco-free, and it’s time to get involved in the campaign against tobacco products.
What’s unsettling is that there are no long-term studies available on vaping. Basically, we don’t know what the future holds for our young people who are partaking in this activity.
If you are concerned that your child may be using e-cigarettes, be on the lookout for symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. If any of these symptoms occur, you should contact your child’s health care provider or call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
About Dr. Leah A. Douglas
Dr. Leah A. Douglas joined the Children’s Hospital Pediatric Primary Care team in July of 2019. Dr. Douglas earned her medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, Alabama. She went on to complete her internship and residency in Pediatrics at LSU Health New Orleans and Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Dr. Douglas has over 7 years’ experience in pediatric emergency medicine and pediatric primary care. She has lived in New Orleans for the past ten years, and has practiced primary care for the past five years. Dr. Douglas is board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the American Medical Association. Her clinical interests include preventative medicine and promoting vaccine safety and efficacy. In her spare time, Dr. Douglas enjoys international travel, reading, animal rescue, and New Orleans Saints football.