Docs warn teens 'cinnamon challenge' prank can be dangerous
The so-called "Cinnamon Challenge" is an adolescent dare that has been depicted in thousands of YouTube videos.
A report published today in Pediatrics says at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year. The spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can be dangerous, according to the report.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that the number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank increased from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year.
“The concern with the cinnamon challenge is that the cinnamon quickly dries out the mouth, making swallowing difficult," Dr. Alvin C. Bronstein of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center said in a warning published on the association's website. "As a result, teens who engage in this activity often choke and vomit, injuring their mouths, throats and lungs. Teens who unintentionally breathe the cinnamon into their lungs also risk getting pneumonia as a result.”
An Ypsilanti, Mich., teen who was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after trying the cinnamon challenge heartily supports the new advice and started her own websitetelling teens to "just say no" to the fad, according to the Associated Press.
Dejah Reed, 16, said she took the challenge four times -- the final time was in February last year with a friend who didn't want to try it alone.
"I was laughing very hard, and I coughed it out, and I inhaled it into my lungs," she said. "I couldn't breathe."
Her father, Fred Reed, said he arrived home soon after to find Dejah "a pale bluish color. It was very terrifying. I threw her over my shoulder" and drove to a nearby emergency room.
Dejah was hospitalized for four days and went home with an inhaler and said she still has to use it when she gets short of breath from running or talking too fast. Her dad said she'd never had asthma or breathing problems before.
Dejah said she'd read about the challenge on Facebook and other social networking sites and "thought it would be cool" to try.
Now she knows "it's not cool and it's dangerous."
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You can contact health writer James T. Mulder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-2245