The stunt, dubbed the “Cinnamon Challenge” and featured on tens of thousands of videos on You Tube, depicts people (the majority of them, teens) taking the dare to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon within a minute without any water.
As a result, these viral videos show kids coughing and choking as the spice triggers a severe gag reflex in response to a caustic sensation in the mouth and throat.
According to the AAP, eating cinnamon in small amounts, mixed with other foods, does not cause these problems for most people, but larger amounts can be harmful because of the fibers and other components of the spice. Moreover, this stunt has raised concerns of choking, aspiration and lung damage. Some adolescents have gone to the emergency department after taking the Cinnamon Challenge, and some have required hospitalization for collapsed lungs. At least 30 youth in the U.S. have needed medical attention.
While the effects are temporary in most cases, there can be long-lasting lesions, scarring and inflammation of the airway. AAP experts advise that it can be tough for kids to resist the seemingly harmless dare, especially given peer pressure and the popularity on social media, so it is critical for parents, schools and pediatricians to talk to kids about the risks involved.
Remind kids of the importance of calling 911 immediately if someone stops breathing, collapses or has a seizure due to this activity. For more information, check out the American Association of Poison Control Centers website at http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/cinnamon-challenge/.
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