Lung Disease in Teens Could Be Linked to Vaping, Minnesota Health Department Says

The Minnesota Health Department on Tuesday warned against the potential dangers of vaping after four teenagers were hospitalized for lung disease. They were treated for more than one week.

The teenagers all reportedly used vapes. "We had four cases of severe lung injuries reported at the Children's Hospital and the commonality between all four teenagers was vaping. In one case, a patient received intensive care and had to be intubated. It has become an issue of youth epidemic abuse," Laura Oliven, the Tobacco Control Manager of Minnesota's Health Department, told Newsweek on Wednesday.

"The hospital ruled out any infections as the cause for their symptoms but the common factor is they all used vapes. We don't know if it was a bad batch, abuse of these products or a result of a mixture of nicotine and marijuana," Oliven added.

This is the first time that Minnesota has directly linked lung disease in teenagers to e-cigarettes and other forms of battery-powered smoking. Respiratory issues are usually linked to viruses and bacterial infections, and both can be treated with antibiotics. In this case, the treatments did not work.

Minnesota is the third state to have issued a public warning of this nature. Illinois and Wisconsin also issued similar statements in early August after teenagers using various forms of e-cigarettes had to be hospitalized and treated. Over 20 cases have been reported so far.

In Illinois, six teenagers complained of respiratory problems like fatigue, severe cough and shortness of breath. They had to be admitted when the symptoms worsened.

"The short- and long-term effects of vaping are still being researched, but these recent hospitalizations have shown that there is the potential for immediate health consequences," Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of Illinois Department of Public Health, said in a statement on Friday.

Wisconsin reported 11 such cases. An additional seven are under further investigation.

All three states are working closely with schools to issue warnings against the dangers of vaping. According to Oliven, adolescents are vulnerable to addiction, which could potentially have long-term effects on their learning, memory and retention abilities.

Meanwhile, as Juul faces accusations of fueling the rise of vaping in schools, top executives at the company said that the product was never intended to attract underage teenagers, CBS reported in July.

Juul co-founder James Monsees had also testified that the Juul was made to aid adult smokers who wanted to stop. However, he had taken cognizance of the fact that "a significant number of underage Americans are using e-cigarettes, including Juul products."

Nationwide, there was a 78 percent increase in high school students who started using e-cigarettes between 2017 and 2018. In middle school, the number rose by 48 percent according to FDA'S National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2018.

According to data published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018, one from every five students used e-cigarettes in high school and one of out 20 students smoked in middle school.

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