The gummies’ taste and appearance make them appealing to children. Here’s what to do if you notice your child is unresponsive Find out what to do if your child ingests a marijuana edible, what symptoms to watch for, and when to go to the hospital.
Gummies with CBD or THC can be harmful for children. Here’s what to look out for.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital is warning parents to look out for signs that their children may have eaten gummies that contain chemicals that come from marijuana.
Both compounds come from hemp or marijuana plants. While CBD is not known for making people feel high, some CBD products contain THC, which leads to people feeling high, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
“They are putting these marijuana byproducts into these gummies so that they are easier to take for adults or more appealing to young adults,” hospital chief medical officer Joe Childs said. “But then they are dangerous for kids because they find them, they get into them. They are going to eat and eat and eat because it’s candy to them. So, we have had cases of children that have gotten into these and essentially overdosed. It’s been life threatening in terms of how it has affected them.”
Children’s bodies are different than adult bodies. Childs said there are several factors that can lead to children’s’ lives being at risk .
He said the gummies taste like candy and the packaging looks like regular candy, so children might eat several gummies at a time. Additionally, the physical effects of the gummies do not occur right away, so children may eat several gummies before realizing something is wrong.
On top of all of that, there are recipes online showing people how to make their own gummies, Childs said. That means gummies may not be stored in childproof containers.
While parents may be worried that they did something wrong that led to their child eating gummies, Childs said it’s important to seek medical help “as quickly as possible.”
The hospital has put at least one child on full support temporarily after the child had ingested gummies, Childs said.
Here’s what to look out for.
What symptoms do I need to watch for?
Childs said “alteration in behavior” is the main thing to look out for. If children are hard to wake up or if they are unresponsive, parents needs to reach out for help because something could be wrong.
If a child is not breathing or doesn’t have a pulse, CPR should be administered immediately while emergency help is on the way.
“It is rare, but if there is a bag of potent gummies available and they eat several of those, it can absolutely be life threatening that they stop breathing,” Childs said.
Who do I call for help?
Parents can call 911 if they need medical attention for their child.
You can reach your local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline at 800-222-1222. You can save the number to your cell phone by texting “POISON” to 797979.
Isabel Lohman reports on children’s education, health, welfare and opportunities in East Tennessee
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What should I do if my child eats something with weed in it?
If your child accidently eats gummies or something else with weed in it, get medical help right away. Don’t wait – marijuana is a serious drug.
- If your child shows signs of serious distress – such as difficulty breathing or unconsciousness – call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
- Otherwise, call their doctor or the help line of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) at 1-800-222-1222.
- In addition to seeking medical attention, try to figure out how much marijuana your child consumed, and how much THC it contained (if it’s an edible, you can look at the wrapper).
Serious side effects are especially common with edibles (such as cookies, brownies, and candies) and synthetic marijuana because these are sometimes cut with dangerous chemicals. Edibles also typically contain more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
A child who has ingested marijuana might just need to be observed in the emergency room for a few hours. If their symptoms are severe, they could be admitted to the hospital for observation overnight. Your child’s urine probably will be tested to confirm the presence of marijuana and check for any other substances.
As marijuana becomes decriminalized, hospitals are seeing more and more children who have accidentally consumed weed. In 2020, the AAPCC received nearly 3,000 calls about children who were accidentally exposed to edible marijuana. Most were under age 5.
Healthcare providers treating a child who has eaten something containing marijuana may contact child protective services, who will typically want to ensure the overall safety of the child within their home. But fear of these consequences is not a reason to avoid getting your child necessary – and potentially life-saving – medical care.
What are some of the signs to watch out for after my child ingests marijuana?
Because children are small, they have a much greater risk of severe and potentially life-threatening effects from weed. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Loss of coordination
- Excessive sleepiness
- Slurred speech
Keep in mind that the THC in edible marijuana won’t take effect until about 30 to 60 minutes after it’s eaten. These effects will likely continue to intensify for another 3 to 4 hours.
Can my child get high if they eat something with marijuana in it?
Yes. Because of their smaller bodies, children who consume a marijuana edible will experience the effects – including getting “high” – more quickly than an adult. This can be a very scary, unfamiliar experience for a child. Just one pot candy or cookie could have multiple times the recommended dose of THC for adults, so these products are especially potent for kids.
How to keep your child from ingesting something with weed in it
Whether your weed is legal or not, medicinal or recreational, treat it (and all marijuana products) like any medication:
- Store it safely. Keep marijuana products out of children’s reach in child-resistant containers or a lockbox.
- Never keep marijuana edibles with other foods because some edibles are packaged to resemble familiar treats, like gummy bears and brownies, and your child won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Don’t buy edibles that resemble real candy. Some marijuana edible packaging are designed to look identical to common candy packaging, making them a magnet for kids. Your child will not be able to tell the difference.
- Don’t use marijuana in front of your kids. Consuming marijuana around children sets a bad example and can create a temptation for kids. It can also be harmful. Second-hand marijuana smoke, including THC, can also get into children’s bodies, research shows. Marijuana consumption can also impair your ability to provide a safe environment for your child.
- Talk to family members, friends and caregivers. If visitors bring edibles or weed into your house, make sure it’s always out of children’s reach, and that they don’t use them while watching your kids.
If you’re concerned about your use of weed and want help quitting, talk to your doctor. They can help you find the resources and support you need.
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