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1:17 AM / Saturday August 20, 2022

29 Apr 2013

MDs warn teens: Don’t take the cinnamon challenge

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April 29, 2013 Category: Health Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: This undated photo provided by Frederick Reed shows Dejah Reed, an Ypsilanti, Mich., teen who was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after
trying the cinnamon challenge. A new report from doctors to be published Monday, April 22, 2013, advises against taking the challenge that involves daring
someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. The fad depicted in wildly popular YouTube videos has led to hospitalizations
and a surge in calls to U.S. poison centers.

(AP Photo/Frederick Reed)

Don’t take the cinnamon challenge: Doctors warn teens after surge in calls to poison centers

By Lindsey Tanner

Associated Press

CHICAGO — Don’t take the cinnamon challenge. That’s the advice from doctors in a new report about a dangerous prank depicted in popular YouTube videos but
which has led to hospitalizations and a surge in calls to U.S. poison centers.

The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down
can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.

Published online Monday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year.

The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank “has increased dramatically,” from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the
American Association of Poison Control Centers.

“People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing,” according to
an alert posted on the association’s website.

Thousands of YouTube videos depict kids attempting the challenge, resulting in an “orange burst of dragon breath” spewing out of their mouths and sometimes
hysterical laughter from friends watching the stunt, said report co-author Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami
Miller School of Medicine.

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Cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibers that don’t easily break down. Animal research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the
lungs, it can cause scarring, Lipshultz said.

Dr. Stephen Pont, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an Austin, Texas pediatrician, said the report is “a call to arms to parents and
doctors to be aware of things like the cinnamon challenge” and to pay attention to what their kids are viewing online.

An Ypsilanti, Mich., teen who was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after trying the cinnamon challenge heartily supports the new advice and started her
own website — http://nocinnamonchallenge.com — telling teens to “just say no” to the fad.

Dejah Reed, 16, said she took the challenge four times — the final time was in February last year with a friend who didn’t want to try it alone.

“I was laughing very hard and I coughed it out and I inhaled it into my lungs,” she said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

Her father, Fred Reed, said he arrived home soon after to find Dejah “a pale bluish color. It was very terrifying. I threw her over my shoulder” and drove
to a nearby emergency room.

Dejah was hospitalized for four days and went home with an inhaler and said she still has to use it when she gets short of breath from running or talking
too fast. Her dad said she’d never had asthma or breathing problems before.

Dejah said she’d read about the challenge on Facebook and other social networking sites and “thought it would be cool” to try.

Now she knows “it’s not cool and it’s dangerous.”

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