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Cannabis-related emergencies in children and teens

Yih-Chieh Chen, Jean Klig
Current Opinion in Pediatrics 2019 March 6

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To examine the spectrum of emergency department presentations associated with cannabis use or misuse that are currently seen in the pediatric population.

RECENT FINDINGS: There is a growing concern that pediatric emergency department visits related to cannabis are on the rise, especially given rapidly changing legislation on cannabis and its broad availability in certain areas. These concerns are substantiated in the current literature, as the evidence mounts for an array of emergency department presentations of intentional or accidental cannabis use. The range of presentations documented in the recent literature spans gastrointestinal, psychiatric and cardiorespiratory effects, in addition to traumatic injuries and accidental ingestions by younger children. Complications of chronic cannabis use, such as 'cannabis hyperemesis syndrome', depression, psychosis or cognitive impairment, are now recognized outcomes and even more are likely to emerge.

SUMMARY: An array of cannabis-related symptoms is possible from acute use or exposure. Common presentations include acute intoxication, hyperemesis, depression and acute physical injuries from impaired psychomotor function. Uncommon presentations include cardiorespiratory effects, and a range of symptoms in young children that include hyperkinesis and coma. Clinical vigilance is needed to suspect and clinically diagnose cannabis exposure in the emergency department.


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