Marijuana exposure rising among young children: study

Columbus, OH – Children younger than 6 are increasingly exposed to marijuana, with some of those exposures sending children to the emergency department, according to research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide examined data from the National Poison Data System. Exposure (mostly occurring after swallowing marijuana) among children younger than 6 increased 147.5 percent from 2006 to 2013, and nearly 610 percent during the same time in states that legalized marijuana for medical use before 2000.

More than 75 percent of exposed children were younger than 3, and more than 18 percent of exposed children were hospitalized. Most exposure incidents led to minor health issues, although some children experienced low breathing, coma and seizures.

Three-quarters of children were exposed when they ingested marijuana, possibly due to the popularity of food containing marijuana, such as cookies and brownies, Henry Spiller, study co-author and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, said in a press release. Food containing marijuana can have high amounts of THC, the drug’s primary psychoactive ingredient.

The study was published online June 7 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.