Early results from a two-year Canadian study are shedding a light on how dangerous cannabis edibles can be if they end up in the hands of young children.
The study, which looked at incidents when a child under the age of 18 had experienced a serious or life-threatening event related to exposure to non-medical cannabis, found that 33 per cent of the cases in 2019 involved children being hospitalized after accidentally consuming cannabis edibles.
The results also showed that the number of children hospitalized due to severe reactions to cannabis exposure has doubled since 2018.
While children experiencing harm due to cannabis is significantly rarer than children being impacted by alcohol – a 2017 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported that six children between the ages of 10 and 19 were hospitalized due to alcohol every day between 2015 and 2016 — this new study underlines for parents that accidentally leaving out edibles around children can lead to terrifying hospital visits.
“Cannabis products, like other substances that can impact children’s health, should be secured in one’s home,” Dr. Richard Bélanger, one of the principal investigators on the study, and an adolescent medicine specialist with Université Laval, told CTVNews.ca in an email.
Health-care providers have warned of the risks of cannabis edibles for children before. When edibles are fashioned to look like candy that children are used to, it can be easy for children to accidentally consume a much higher level of the drug much faster than is safe.
“People need to be really conscious of the impact it can have, particularly on young children given their size and the way they metabolize (cannabis),” Debbie Friedman, trauma director at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, told CTV News in 2019.
The second interim results of the study were released Thursday by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP), a joint project of the Public Health Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.
According to the study, in 2019 there were 51 cases of cannabis-related exposure reported by paediatricians and health-care providers.
Of those cases, 36 involved serious or life-threatening events — and 34 required hospitalization.
The average age of children impacted in these incidents was just under 10 years old. Sixteen of the children were girls, and 20 were boys.
A third of all of the cases involved children who were 12 years old or younger and had suffered “unintentional injury” by accidental consumption of cannabis edibles, such as gummies or chocolate.
“From an epidemiological and public health perspective, unintentional injuries are preventable events that must be understood, in…