(HealthDay News) – The incidence of unintentional ingestion of marijuana in children <12 years of age increased significantly following legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado, according to research published online May 27 in JAMA Pediatrics.

George Sam Wang, MD, from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, and colleagues evaluated 1,378 patients <12 years for unintentional marijuana ingestions (790 before Sept. 30, 2009, and 588 after Oct. 1, 2009).

The researchers found that the proportion of ingestion visits in patients <12 years (range, 8 months–12 years) that were related to marijuana exposure increased significantly after Sept. 30, 2009, from zero of 790 exposures to 14 of 588 exposures (2.4%). Symptoms included lethargy (nine patients), ataxia (one), and respiratory insufficiency (one), leading to hospital admissions (eight), including two to the intensive care unit. Of the 14 exposures, eight involved medical marijuana and seven were from food products.

“We found a new appearance of unintentional marijuana ingestions by young children after modification of drug enforcement laws for marijuana possession in Colorado,” the authors write.

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