Health

'Significant number' of Canadian children needed care after ingesting edible cannabis, pediatricians say

Between September and December 2018, 16 cases of harm involving recreational cannabis were reported among those under 18, according to preliminary findings by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program.

16 reported cases of harm involving those under 18 between September and December

Samples of edible cannabis-based products are displayed during the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition. In six cases, those under 18 accidentally ate or were exposed to cannabis that belonged to a parent or caregiver, Canadian pediatricians say. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Preliminary research by the Canadian Paediatric Society found "a significant number of young children" required medical care after ingesting cannabis in the months surrounding legalization last October.

The Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program says it collected 16 reported cases of serious adverse events involving recreational cannabis between September and December 2018.

They include six cases of kids younger than 18 who accidentally ate edibles and one case of accidental exposure. In each case, the cannabis belonged to a parent or caregiver.

Four other cases of exposure were not accidental, although the society could not share more information.

Details surrounding the five other reports were not immediately available, including how the kids were exposed to cannabis, their ages and whether exposure was accidental or not.

The surveillance program defines "adverse events" as all cases in which kids are harmed by cannabis consumption, including injuries that may result from use by another individual, such as a friend or parent who is under the influence of cannabis.

The two-year study will collect data until October 2020. The cannabis data was released Thursday, along with details from several other research projects underway.

"The number of cases involving young children is striking," Christina Grant, a pediatrician in Hamilton and co-principal investigator, said Thursday in a release.

"These early results highlight the urgency of prioritizing the needs of children and youth in policy and education initiatives, especially as edibles become legalized later this year."

Teething necklace warning

Meanwhile, data collected by a separate study in the surveillance program suggests non-Type 1 diabetes is on the rise, with 266 cases reported between January 2018 and December 2018.

Among those, 71 per cent were childhood-onset Type-2 diabetes, with Indigenous populations disproportionately affected.

That study began June 2017 and ended in May 2019.

And a separate survey on the dangers of teething necklaces and bracelets has the society repeating its caution against putting anything around an infant's neck.

When asked in January 2018 about any adverse events related to the products in the previous year, physicians reported 10 cases — including strangulation, choking and accidental swallowing.

The CPSP is a network of 2,700 Canadian pediatricians and pediatric sub specialists. It is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.

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