Health Beat - Fall 2019 - 11
to hide. The devices can look like a pen, a
computer memory stick, a car key fob or
even an asthma inhaler. The liquid used
in e-cigarettes contains nicotine and flavorings. These devices can also be used
to deliver marijuana and other drugs.
Juul devices are becoming more
prevalent with middle and high schoolers because of their small size; they look
like a USB flash drive. Juuls contain
59 mg/mL of nicotine in each pod, the
equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.
PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES
The Numbers Are Rising
According to the latest data from 2018,
the National Youth Tobacco Survey
reported 20.8 percent of high school
students and 4.9 percent of middle
school students vape.
"That's 1 in 5 students, and that's
just the ones that are telling us they
vape. That number could be significantly
higher," says pediatrician Julianne
Schwerdtfager, M.D., of Salina Pediatric
Care. "E-cigarette companies market
their products to children and adolescents by promoting flavors making it
look fun, innocent and harmless. But
that's not what we are seeing."
The Health Risks of Vaping
Vaping is not good for anyone, but it's
especially problematic for teens and
young adults, whose brains are still
developing. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that can have lasting and
damaging effects on the adolescent
brain and has been linked to a variety
of adverse health outcomes. When it
comes to vaping devices, there are often
wide discrepancies between the labeled
amount and the actual nicotine content
within the solution.
Numerous toxicants and carcinogens
have been found in e-cigarette solutions. Another concern is that refillable
cartridges allow the user to deliver
other psychoactive substances, including marijuana.
Poisonings and Injuries
Unintentional exposure to and poisoning from e-cigarette solutions
containing nicotine have increased.
Starting in 2016, Schwerdtfager says,
child-resistant packaging was required;
however, there continue to be many
emergency department visits because
small children are getting ahold of the
liquid. Exposure to this liquid can be
fatal. A child death caused by ingestion
of liquid nicotine was reported in the
United States in 2014, according to the
American Academy of Pediatrics.
The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe
for kids, teens and young adults.
DMost e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
DE-cigarettes can contain harmful substances besides nicotine.
DYoung people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke
cigarettes in the future.
DScientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of
DSome of the ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could be harmful
to the lungs in the long term.
DDefective e-cigarette batteries have caused some fires and
explosions, a few of which have resulted in serious injuries.
DChildren and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Also, the earlier in life a person
uses nicotine products, the stronger
the addiction and the more difficult it
is to quit.
"A teenager may say they can always
stop anytime because they don't want
to admit they may already be addicted.
Kids who use these e-cigarette products
are more likely to use regular cigarettes
later on. We have good evidence of
that," Schwerdtfager says.
Aerosol generated by e-cigarettes is
inhaled and then exhaled by the user,
and some of that aerosol may be discharged directly into the surrounding
environment and deposited on surface
areas. Bystanders are then exposed to
this aerosol; the health implications of
this are still not fully understood.
What Parents Can Do
Schwerdtfager encourages parents
to have frank discussions with their
children not only about vaping, but
also about all substance use, starting
at age 10 or 11.
"This needs to be on the radar for
all parents," she says. "We are happy
to discuss this topic with parents, as
we are learning more and more about
this all the time. We also include
the discussion in our appointments
Schwerdtfager recommends that
parents who want more information visit
healthychildren.org, a website of the
American Academy of Pediatrics. 1
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Health Beat - Fall 2019
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