OHSU: Doctors see rise in liquid nicotine poisoning - KPTV - FOX 12

OHSU: Doctors see rise in liquid nicotine poisoning

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It smells like candy, comes in a colorful bottle and is toxic enough to send a child to the emergency room.

The Centers for Disease Control is warning parents about the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. Just one mouthful for a child is like eating five cigarettes.

The e-cigarette industry is exploding. Many of the new "vapers" are former smokers using the devices to kick a deadly habit.

"I don't think my husband has had a cigarette in months," said Britney Irons who uses an electronic cigarette to inhale flavored liquid nicotine.

"It's making it easier to slow down on smoking and our intake of nicotine altogether."

But the trend is causing a new problem.

A rise in e-cigarette sales corresponds with a rise in calls to poison control centers.

Calls involving liquid nicotine have risen from just one a month in 2010, to 215 in February of 2014.

The Poison Control Center at OHSU has received 31 calls related to the drug, mostly involving children who get a hold of refill vials.

"It doesn't take much to squeeze one of these bottles into your mouth just like a little baby bottle," said Medical Director Dr. Zane Horowitz.

Horowitz worries the bottles are too easy to open and the flavors are too tempting for kids.

Just a few drops of the nicotine are quickly absorbed in a child's system. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting that can last for hours.

"Some of these children have gotten sick enough that we've had to bring them into the hospital to control their recurrent episodes."

More than half the calls to poison control centers involve kids under the age of 5.

Irons, a mother of three, keeps her vials stored high above the refrigerator and out of reach of her kids.

"We try to teach our kids that it is dangerous and it's gross and it's nothing that they would want to be touching," Irons said.

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