Documented cases of e-cigarette poisoning among young children have surged according to a new study. The drastic increase in accidental liquid nicotine exposure complemented the dramatic growth in e-cigarette usage among young people.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Poison Data System from January 2012 all the way to April 2015. The analysis found there were a monthly 729 tobacco exposures through ingestion on average among children below 6 years old.

In particular, the monthly reported cases of children who accidentally inhaled, touched or swallowed e-cigarette components surged from 14 to 223 cases when the study ended. The majority of these children were aged 2 and below.

Alarmingly, these cases only cover 14 percent of the almost 30,000 cases of accidental tobacco and nicotine exposure among children during the study's period.

The team found that liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes and refills were responsible for approximately 14.2 percent of the abovementioned exposure average. Across the research's time span, there was a 1492 percent increase in the monthly e-cigarette poisoning cases.

"If you use these products, you need to treat them as medication or toxins and keep them closed, locked and out of reach of children," said Dr. Joan Shook, Texas Children's Hospital's chief safety officer.

Shook, who wasn't involved in the study, referred to the poisonings as "a huge public health issue."

The research only looked into the cases that were reported voluntarily. These numbers do not include the exposures that go unnoticed.

The analysis highlighted that young children who were accidentally exposed to e-cigarettes had 5.2 increased chances of being admitted to a healthcare facility as well as 2.6 increased chances of suffering from severe health consequences compared to children exposed to real cigarettes.

The study authors suggested that immediate government action is called for towards the regulation of these tobacco and nicotine products to prevent poisoning among young children. Public education, warning labels, device modifications, better packaging as well as proper storage are several preventive strategies mentioned.

The study was published in the Pediatrics journal.

Photo: Lindsay Fox | Flickr

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