Teenagers should avoid the "cinnamon challenge," a popular prank that challenges kids to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in 60 seconds without having any water. That's the warning from a group of doctors who published their opinion in the journal Pediatrics this week. At least 30 kids and teens were hospitalized last year, as NBC News reports:
[Doctors say] 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 stunt, resulting in an "orange burst of dragon breath" spewing out of their mouths and sometimes hysterical laughter from friends watching, said report co-author Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
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.
Image: Cinnamon, via Shutterstock