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ER doctors warn parents after seeing more kids exposed to marijuana edibles

Doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta report edibles are of increasing concern and should be locked and stored like other medications and household items.

ATLANTA — The laundry room, bathroom cabinets, even your purse. 

The chances for a child to eat or be exposed to something they shouldn't is scattered throughout most homes. Every year, millions of calls come into poison control centers across the country following an accidental poisoning, many of them happening in young children.

"Kids really can get into anything and everything," Dr. Maneesha Agarwal with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, shared with 11Alive. 

Nearly 40,000 calls for help came into the Georgia Poison Center last year concerning kids and teens. The poisonings often involved cleaning products, medications, and cosmetics, and in the majority of cases incidents involved young children.

RELATED: Warning: Kids are getting a hold of Delta-8 gummies, doctors say

But Dr. Agarwal said another trend is also growing in the emergency room at Children's. She's seeing an increase in young children who accidentally get a hold of marijuana edibles.

"It's getting to the point where we can reliably count on seeing one of these patients in our emergency department on a weekly basis," she explained. 

Such products can look like candy, but they contain marijuana or a THC derivative, and Dr. Agarwal said the effects in a child can be unpredictable.

"It's still a little bit unclear how long we really need to watch these patients, and they can come in quite altered and sometimes even require ICU level care," she added. 

To protect children from accidental poisonings, doctors emphasize that edibles should be locked and stored separately from other foods. Safe4Kids also has more resources on how to keep kids safe including: 

  • Save the number for the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) as a favorite in your phone, and have it easily displayed for all guests and residents in your home (e.g., on the refrigerator or another obvious space).
  • Keep dangerous items out of reach for curious hands. Make sure any medications are properly stored: up, away and out of sight. Remember that containers are child-resistant, not childproof. 
  • Store chemicals properly as well as cleaning supplies, button batteries, craft supplies, prescription medications (the most common substance in poisonings), THC or Delta-8 gummies, liquid medicines like NyQuil and ibuprofen, laundry pods, motor oil and other chemicals out of kids’ reach.
  • Make sure detectors are armed. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries every 6 months to ensure they’re up to date. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 right away. Symptoms include nausea, chest pain, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, headache.
  • Teach kids to identify, avoid, and respect Georgia’s poisonous plants and venomous snakes. When outside, be aware of poison ivy and sumac, as well as common venomous snakes like coral snakes, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and copperheads. If you or your child brushes up against one of these plants, wash the area with soap and water right away. If you see a snake on your property, you can encourage it to move along with a gentle spray of a water hose or call in an expert to remove it.
  • If you think your child has swallowed something they shouldn't have, the first thing to do is make sure your child doesn’t have any more of it. Then, if they are breathing and have a pulse, call poison control. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • If possible, ask your child what they swallowed, how much, and find out the strength or dosage. Share this information with the poison help line, and/or physicians. If they got into a household cleaning product, take the product with you to the hospital.

Families can find more resources here

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