At least 35 people have reported having seizures after using electronic cigarettes in the last decade.
"While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement.
The US Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday it is investigating a possible connection between e-cigarette use and seizures in younger users.
Some of the reported seizure cases involved users who had a prior history of seizure diagnosis, while a few others suffered seizures in association with use of other substances such as marijuana or amphetamines.
"Additional reports or information about these incidents may help us determine if there's a connection and help identify common risk factors and if any e-cigarette product attributes, such as nicotine content or formulation, may contribute to seizures". "Due to the voluntary nature of these case reports, there may be more instances of seizure in e-cigarette users than have been reported". Some seizures occurred immediately after using the device, whereas others happened a day or so after use.
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Seizures or convulsions are known potential side effects of nicotine poisoning and have been reported in scientific literature in relation to intentional or accidental swallowing of nicotine-containing e-liquids, according to the FDA.
"But we've also been clear that, even for adults, e-cigarettes are not risk free". E-cigarette users also might be inadvertently or deliberately inhaling more nicotine than normal.
"Research demonstrates that high concentrations of nicotine can cause significant health effects, including seizures", said Andrea Spatarella, a doctor of nursing practice from the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, New York. The cases under investigation occurred between 2010 and 2019, and the FDA has noticed a "slight but noticeable" increase in reports since June.
The agency is asking e-cigarette users to report any "unexpected health or product issues" to the agency through its Safety Reporting Portal website.