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Side effects of vaping e-cigarettes may be linked to an increased risk of seizures, particularly among teens and other young users, according to federal health officials.
The FDA issued a warning on April 3, announcing an ongoing investigation into a growing number of reports involving seizures following the use of e-cigarettes. According to the agency, adverse event reports linking seizures to vaping have been rising since June 2018.
The agency indicates it has received at least 35 reports of seizures linked to electronic cigarettes since 2010. But the rate of reports is increasing, as popularity of vaping spreads and there may be many more incidents that have gone unreported.
“We want to be clear that we don’t yet know if there’s a direct relationship between the use of e-cigarettes and a risk of seizure. We can’t yet say for certain that e-cigarettes are causing these seizures,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement. “We’re sharing this early information with the public because as a public health agency, it’s our job to communicate about potential safety concerns associated with the products we regulate that are under scientific investigation by the agency.”
Gottlieb and Abernathy said the FDA also hopes the public will be encouraged to voluntarily report such incidents, since many of the reports received to date have lacked information. It has been difficult to identify specific brands or establish clear patterns. He notes, for example, that seizures have been reported among new users as well as more experienced ones. Sometimes just a few puffs seemed to lead to a seizure, while in other instances the victim had been heavily vaping for a significant amount of time.
When submitting a report, the FDA asks that consumers and health care professionals be sure to include the name of the manufacturer, the brand name, model and serial number of the device or e-liquid used, where it was purchased, whether it was modified or if the device malfunctioned, and what other tobacco products, medications, supplements or drugs are also being used at the time. The agency also needs to know whether there were any other symptoms, details about preceding events such as duration and intensity of e-cigarette use, and details about the resulting health effects.
Reports of e-cigarette seizures can be made through the FDA’s Safety Reporting Portal.
Teen Vaping Health Concerns.
The latest warning indicates that the rate of seizures seems higher among young users, such as teenagers and young adults.
E-cigarette use spiked to 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students over the last year, making it the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s teens.
Recently the Surgeon General issued a safety advisory warning the public about the long-term health risks and addiction teens face by taking up the habit.
Studies have also shown recently that teen use of e-cigarettes quadruples their risk of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes later in life. Teenagers also face other health risks related to toxic chemical exposureand respiratory side effects.
More than 1.5 million teens began vaping from 2017 to 2018; a statistic that is startling for many regulators.
The FDA proposed restrictions on e-cigarettes last year, yet failed to include a full ban on flavored vaping products, which are widely believed to entice teens to try the products.
For several months the agency has warned that if e-cigarette companies don’t end advertising campaigns aimed at underage users, the agency could enact a full ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products.
The FDA has the authority to ban e-cigarette sales and require vaping manufacturers to obtain formal approval through the FDA, but has not done so.