Dangers of the ‘Cinnamon Challenge’ Need Emphasis

(HealthDay News) – With the increasing popularity of the “Cinnamon Challenge,” especially among adolescents, the potential dangers need to be emphasized, according to a perspective piece published online April 22 in Pediatrics.

Amelia Grant-Alfieri, from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues discuss the potential dangers of the Cinnamon Challenge, which entails swallowing a tablespoon of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without drinking.

The researchers reported that YouTube clips depicting the Cinnamon Challenge have been viewed millions of times, mainly by 13- to 24-year-olds, and have raised concerns of choking, aspiration, and pulmonary damage. Attempts to swallow a large quantity of dry cinnamon pose a risk of aspiration. Inhalation of cinnamon can cause pulmonary inflammation, while aspirated powder can enter the upper airways, causing inflammation and, in severe cases, aspiration pneumonia. The fibers and other components of cinnamon can cause allergic and irritant reactions, and cinnamon can also trigger potentially fatal hypersensitivity-induced asthma attacks. During the first six months of 2012 there were 178 calls to the U.S American Association of Poison Control Centers relating to the Cinnamon Challenge, of which 17% required medical attention. According to the Florida Poison Information Center, there were 26 calls regarding cinnamon exposure between July 2011 and June 2012, of which 13 involved the Cinnamon Challenge, all among 8–18-year-olds. Two of these cases involved potentially toxic exposures.

“Given the allure of social media, peer pressure, and a trendy new fad, pediatricians and parents have a ‘challenge’ of their own in counseling tweens and teens regarding the sensibilities of the choices they make and the potential health risks of this dare,” the authors write.

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