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E-cig poisonings of children under 5 on rise in Minnesota

By Andy Rathbun / St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota has seen a jump in the number of children poisoned by e-cigarettes and their liquid refillables, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday.

From 2013 to 2014, the number of e-cigarette and e-liquid poisonings among Minnesota children 5 and younger rose 35 percent — the second year the Minnesota Poison Control System has seen a significant increase of nicotine poisonings related to e-cigarette products, the health department said in a news release. Poisonings from these products rose from three in 2012 to 62 in 2014.

E-cigarette products can contain a fatal amount of nicotine for a child, and about half of the cases last year were treated at emergency departments. Children can confuse the products, which are often flavored, with a candy or drink, the department of health said.

In January, a new state law took effect requiring child-resistant packaging for e-liquid products.

"This past year Minnesota took a big step to keep kids from accidently ingesting these potentially fatal e-liquids," Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. "But parents should still use caution and store the products out of the reach of children."

The symptoms that can result from nicotine poisoning include nausea, seizures, diarrhea, vomiting and difficulty breathing.

The department of health issued a nicotine heath advisory Wednesday that also warns teens and pregnant women of possible nicotine effects.

The drug can harm brain development during adolescence and harm fetal brain and lung development, the department said.

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