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Doctor: 'Concerning uptick' of children hospitalized after consuming pot

As more and more states adopt marijuana reform, doctors anticipate more children entering hospitals after consuming pot.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — According to Spectrum Health, several adults a day are coming into emergency rooms after consuming marijuana. And with children, it's a whole different story.

Within the last five to seven years, doctors in West Michigan say there's been a significant increase in the number of children who are admitted because of accidental exposure to pot.

"I've even had—which is very concerning—several young children who have been on life support for a day or two because of accidental ingestion of cannabis containing products," said Emergency Medicine Physician and Medical Toxicologist Dr. Bryan Judge.

Judge works in the ER at Spectrum Health. 

"And children, unfortunately, is becoming a very frequent occurrence at our outlying emergency departments but also here at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital," Judge said.

The trend is only expected to continue as more and more states legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana.

"Nationally, about 25 million people use cannabis products and children who have been exposed to cannabis has gone up six-fold in states where medical marijuana is used," Judge said. He's seen a steady increase in the number of adolescents and children coming in with marijuana toxicity.

"While I've not had any fatalities from cannabis exposure here in West Michigan, the toxicity can be so great that it requires a couple of days of hospitalization," Judge said.

From patients experiencing seizures to needing to be put on a ventilator, children are experiencing all kinds of symptoms after exposure to pot.

"We've just seen a significant uptick in the last couple of years, a very concerning uptick," Judge said.

Doctors are urging adults to educate themselves on marijuana and keep the drug out of reach from children.

"Prevention is the best medicine here and keeping young children and adolescents away from it," Judge said.


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