Uptick in pediatric hospitalizations due to THC gummies sounds alarm for industry regulation

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Posted at 8:49 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 09:49:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt pediatric emergency room doctor is pleading for parents who have THC gummies in their house to secure them following dozens of pediatric emergencies.

"These products that are marketed for recreational use for adults, and so have dosing that is OK for an adult, even some of the doses are even high for an adult, which is why with some of these candies, the intention is not to eat the whole thing in one shot, but rather, on occasion, have a nibble here have a nibble there," explained Dr. Marla Levine with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. "But when small children get their little hands on these products, they are just consuming it like it's candy. And so then you end up having a toxic dose of THC that they're consuming."

In the past six months, the Tennessee Poison Center has had approximately 46 THC or marijuana exposures in children ages 5 years and younger.

Levine said kids "may come in with an alteration in their level of consciousness. They may come in vomiting, they may come in seizing, and in, in very, very, thankfully not the common occurrence but in some cases, they've come in with such a suppression in the respiratory drive, that we need to secure an airway and breathe for them with a breathing tube."

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Pediatric Emergency Dr. Marla Levine

Several store owners who sell THC gummies in Nashville told NewsChannel 5 they agree, there should be more regulation around the products. Some brands are vigilant with including a warning label on the containers and some even have child locks on the bottles.

Levine said the responsibility falls on the child's guardian to clear their counters, purses and cars of their gummies.

"What parents decide to do recreationally — that's their business. But the responsibility is to ensure that these products don't have a way of getting into the hands of a small child and especially children under the age of five. This is very, very dangerous," she stated. "So just like if you have any harmful medications, or quite frankly, any medications, guns, you want to make sure that these are out of reach of children locked away. Hold the same vigilance with these gummies."

The Tennessee Poison Center hotline number is 1-800-222-1222 and is available 24/7, 365/year. Qualified medical professionals, who are registered nurses, pharmacists, and physicians, answer the phones. The hotline is also available for the hearing impaired and non-English speakers.

Some of the children who went to a hospital for consuming their parents' THC gummies spent time in an ICU.