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Children's Hospital: 8 teens hospitalized with seriously damaged lungs, suspected to be caused by vaping

Children’s Hospital: 8 teens hospitalized with seriously damaged lungs, suspected to be caused by vaping

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Children's Hospital says eight teens were hospitalized in July with seriously damaged lungs suspected to be caused by vaping. 

While the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is investigating the possible causes of the illnesses, Children's Hospital says all patients reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to being hospitalized. The hospital says the number of patients in such a short time frame is concerning.

With the increase in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, Children's Hospital is urging parents and teens to be aware of the potential danger. E-cigarette cartridges can contain toxic chemicals that have been shown to damage the lungs. The hospital says because the products are still new, the long-term effects of use are not fully understood.

According to Children's Hospital, the symptoms that led to hospitalization include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, and weight loss. The severity of health condition has varied, with some patients needing assistance in order to breathe. The hospital says patients have shown improvement after treatment, however, the long-term effects are not known. Health officials believe prolonged or continued exposure to the chemicals could lead to more serious health issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a permanent condition which makes the lungs less effective at transporting oxygen and is permanent.

For those with questions about vaping, Children's Hospital is holding a Facebook Live on Friday, July 26 at noon with Dr. Louella Amos, MD, from their pulmonary medicine program. Dr. Amos will be answering questions from teens and parents. For more information about the event, please click here. 

Megan Cordova, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin released the following statement: 

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, one of the nation’s most widely-respected health care organizations, today released information of the hospitalization of eight teens for lung damage, which medical experts suspect is linked to e-cigarette use.

The American Lung Association has always held the position that e-cigarette use is NOT safe, especially by youth whose lungs are still developing. E-cigarettes contain chemicals, heavy metals and fine particulates. The candy and fruit-flavorings that so many youth find appealing also contain chemicals known to cause irreparable lung damage. These flavorings are designed to tempt kids and give the false impression that e-cigarettes are safe. Contrary to what the industry would have them believe, e-cigarettes are NOT SIMPLY HARMLESS WATER VAPOR.

Wisconsin had made enormous strides in reducing smoking rates but now faces a new generation of nicotine addiction among our youth. We call on lawmakers to act swiftly to enact laws to turn the tide on this growing epidemic – raising the legal purchase of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to 21, adding e-cigarettes to the states smoke free air law and taxing e-cigarettes the same as regular combustible cigarettes.

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