FDA Claim: Is Vaping Really Causing Seizures in Teenagers?

FDA Claim: Is Vaping Really Causing Seizures in Teenagers?
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Federal health officials have increasingly been warning that vaping has led to an epidemic of nicotine addiction among teens. But now the Food and Drug Administration says there may be a new worry associated with vaping: It could increase the risk of seizures in young people. [1]

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement:

“We have reports indicating that some people who use e-cigarettes, especially youth and young adults, are experiencing seizures following their use.”

Read: Even Without Nicotine, E-Cigarette Flavorings may Damage Blood Vessels

Some 35 reports of seizures among teenage e-cigarette users have been made to the FDA since 2010. Experts aren’t sure what is causing them. Some of the seizures occurred in people who were vaping for the first time, while some were using other drugs at the time. Others may have had an underlying medical condition – even reporting that they had seizures before.

Frustratingly, many of the reports received by the FDA don’t include enough information for the agency to determine whether certain brands or ways of using the devices are to blame. [2]

The FDA said: [1]

“We can’t yet say for certain that e-cigarettes are causing these seizures. 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.”

Is Vaping the Cause? It’s Certainly Possible …

It is possible that teens are OD’ing on nicotine. Some e-cigarettes, such as Juul, deliver nicotine more quickly, leading kids to get more of the drug than they realize. Juul, in particular, delivers a much higher dose of nicotine than combustible cigarettes. Seizures, convulsions, vomiting, and brain injury are all associated with nicotine poisoning. Some infants and children have died as a result of swallowing liquids containing nicotine, such as those found in e-cigarettes.

… But Based on This Report, There is Much more at Play

There are a few things to consider with this press release if we’re to get a more accurate reading on the situation, as opposed to simply reading headlines. Here are a few quotes from the FDA report that may take away from the hard-hitting headline you may see on the internet.

“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. 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. This also helps encourage the public to voluntarily report additional adverse events that can better inform our work.”

Further, it seems that of the relatively minimal amount of 35 reports spanning 9 years, some of these could be linked to other substance abuse and even a prior history of having seizures.

“In a few situations, e-cigarette users reported a prior history of seizure diagnosis. A few reported cases indicated that the seizures occurred in association with the use of other substances such as marijuana or amphetamines. Seizures have been reported as occurring after a few puffs or up to one day after use.”

Read: Flavored Vape Juice Creates Irritating Chemicals in E-Cigarettes

Gottlieb and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said: [2]

“The FDA is committed to monitoring this issue closely and taking additional steps as necessary to protect the public, especially our nation’s youth, from the dangers of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. We will continue to provide updates as more is learned.”

The FDA is asking people to report seizures and any other unexpected health problems experienced with e-cigarettes to its Safety Reporting Portal. Just be on the look-out.

Sources:

[1] Today

[2] USA Today