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'We Know It's Highly Addictive': Health Officials Warn Poisonings Being Linked To E-cigarettes

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There are new warnings that poisonings are now being linked to e-cigarettes. The vaping epidemic has led to a growing number of calls to poison control hotlines.

Toddlers are accidentally being exposed to the nicotine in electronic cigarettes and teenagers are having adverse reactions, which is leading to mounting calls about the health dangers linked to vaping.

Philadelphia's poison control hotline is getting an increased number of calls about nicotine toxicity related to e-cigarettes and vaping.

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"We're starting to see more intense adverse effects reported to us," said Jeanette Trella, managing director at the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The liquid in e-cigarettes is a very concentrated dose of nicotine, which is a stimulant.

Overdoses can happen when too much is smoked while vaping, or there's exposure to the liquid.

"So nausea, vomiting, those are mild adverse effects and happen pretty frequently, but something more serious, like increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, seizures and death," said Trella.

Trella says there's been an increase in calls recently about toddlers getting into the e-cigarette liquid.

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"They're constantly putting things in their mouths that don't belong," said Trella. "Even a little dose to a small body can be poisonous."

They've also been getting a growing number of calls about teenagers and adults having bad reactions to vaping, like a racing heart, and there are also long-term consequences.

"We know that nicotine exposure during adolescence can uniquely harm the developing adolescent brain, impacting learning, memory and attention," said Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

The surgeon general says vaping is an epidemic as e-cigarette use among high school-age children is up 75% from last year, and vaping among middle school-age children also increased nearly 50%.

"We know it's highly addictive and I think that's very concerning, especially when we talk about the adolescent mind. It's still developing," said Trella.

Federal health officials say more than 3.5 million teens use e-cigarettes.

Philadelphia is one of 55 poison hotline centers around the country. They're all seeing the same trend with calls about adverse reactions related to e-cigarettes.

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If you or someone you know has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Add this number to your phone and post in a visible place in your home.

Follow the Poison Control Center at CHOP on Facebook for important poisoning and safety information.

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