Calls about children exposed to cannabis increase 40 percent

VIDEO: New report highlights toxic trends among the state's youngest children

A new "toxic trend" -- children ingesting cannabis -- has doctors at the Washington Poison Center concerned.

Calls about children being exposed to cannabis increased 40 percent in 2017 for children age 5 and younger, according to data from the Washington Poison Center.

"We're concerned young children are unintentionally getting ahold of cannabis products and there can be potential serious toxicity from those," said Dr. Erica Liebelt, medical director at the Washington Poison Center.

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Liebelt, a toxicologist and a pediatrician, said caregivers are calling to report symptoms that can include sleepiness, drowsiness, lethargy and sometimes even seizures or jerky movements of the arms or legs.

"There have been reports that very young children who have gotten into cannabis products can stop breathing; everything slows down to the point it stops. That's a potentially life-threatening emergency, " Liebelt said.

A new law took effect in February 2017 requiring all THC-infused edibles to be labeled with a warning sticker that says "Not for Kids" and has a red hand print. The sticker also has the phone number for the Washington Poison Center.

There was a bill in the legislature last year that would have required child-resistant packing for marijuana-infused products that contain more than one serving. It would have also required individual items be stamped with a symbol that indicates they contain THC. The bill never made it out of committee.

The Washington Poison Center is asking that all drugs be locked up out of reach of children.

You can buy a lock box.

"You can easily put different products in it, lock it up," said Arti Patel, public health and education director of the Washington Poison Center.

KIRO-7 asked the Washington Poison Center whether there is a way to determine if there were more incidents or just more phone calls.

"This could have been going on all along and now people aren't afraid to call us anymore. They know we're a resource that can help them without any punitive action, or the exposure rate has really gone up -- we have no way to prove that right now," Liebelt said.

Seattle Children's Hospital confirmed it has seen an uptick in the number of cases of children ingesting cannabis edibles.

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