More young children are getting sick from inadvertently eating marijuana edibles, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics.
Calls to poison control centers about kids 5 and under consuming edibles containing THC rose from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 in 2021 — a 1,375% increase, according to the study. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Nearly all of the children — about 97% — found the edibles at home.
The findings were based on more than 7,000 pediatric cases reported to the National Poison Data System, a database that tracks reports of poisonings.
The combination of more states’ legalizing recreational marijuana and the coronavirus pandemic, which meant more children were staying at home, most likely drove the increase, said a co-author of the study, Dr. Antonia Nemanich, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Edibles are often packaged to look like candy or cookies, and kids, unaware of the risk they pose, can sometimes eat several in a single sitting, Nemanich said.
“They don’t know what it is,” she said, “and they don’t know when to stop.”
A little over half of the reports concerned 2- and 3-year-olds, followed by 4-year-olds (18%), 1-year-olds (15%) and 5-year-olds (13%), the study found. Infants accounted for 1.9% of the calls.
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