Pediatric Death from Cannabis Exposure Reported

A case study published in August reports that there has been a pediatric death from cannabis exposure.  An 11-month-old male baby in Colorado died of cardiac arrest related to cannabis exposure.  Thomas Nappe, DO, and Christopher Hoyte, MD, explained the incident  in Clinical Practices and Cases in Emergency Medicine, August 2017

Before hospitalization, the patient had been lethargic for two hours when he woke up one morning.  Then he had a seizure.  He had been irritable 1-2 days prior to the event, but had no previous medical conditions.  When admitted for emergency medical attention, the baby presented with central nervous system depression and progressed to cardiac arrest.  Doctors took drastic measures and tried to save him.

The cause of death is consistent with drug-induced, toxic myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).   The boy baby probably ingested pot 2-6 days before  death, leaving 7.8 ng THC metabolites, according to the toxicology report.  The only risk factor doctors uncovered for myocarditis was the presence of THC in his urine and serum.  The report suggests that passive inhalation of marijuana smoke was unlikely; the baby probably swallowed marijuana, perhaps edibles. A Denver Post article published a year ago briefly mentioned this death.

The marijuana lobbyists and industry frequently tell us that “no one ever died from marijuana.”

Child deaths related to marijuana use

Many small children have experienced marijuana poisoning since Colorado began the sale of commercialized marijuana in 2014.

Edibles in the form of popular cookies and candies are especially appealing to children.   Parents must take special care to keep these products away from crawling babies and toddlers.

Marijuana edibles appeal to crawlers and toddlers who love to put things in their mouth.

Poppot is tracking child abuse and neglect related to caregivers’ pot use.   Since 2016, THC exposure has become a more common cause of child abuse deaths related to marijuana. THC exposure is responsible for about 10 of 96 child deaths.  Most of the babies who died because of THC exposure were of low birth weight and had been exposed to THC before birth.  In a few cases, the mothers, who continued to use pot, fell asleep and smothered their infants.

Marijuana exposure poisonings in Colorado

Dr. George Sam Wang tracks pediatric marijuana exposure requiring emergency treatment.  The number of cases has been growing since 2011.   Last year Wang and his colleagues published these concerns in Jama Pediatrics, noting the increase of ER treatments since the commercialization of marijuana began.

“Ingestion of edible products continues to be a major source of marijuana exposures in children and poses a unique problem because no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form,” the authors wrote.

At Colorado Children’s Hospital, the median length of visits for pot ingestion is 11 hours.  The average age is two.  About one third of the kids were admitted into in-patient care or even the intensive-care unit. Some of the children had great distress and needed to be intubated to facilitate breathing.

The Colorado legislature implemented new rules which require the labeling of marijuana edibles.  This year Colorado banned edibles in the shape of animals and  forms appealing to children.  Smart Colorado worked long and hard to implement these changes.