PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As kids begin to search for holiday gifts and treats, a University of Washington pediatrician is warning parents to keep medications and cannabis edibles out of their reach.

University of Washington referenced a study published in the journal Pediatrics in February which found more than 7,000 confirmed cases of kids under six years old ingesting edibles in the United States between 2017 and 2021, according to the National Poison Data System.

A vast majority, 97%, of those exposures happened in a residential setting, researchers said.

“[Kids] are very curious. If they find something that looks like candy in an interesting package, they’re going to eat it — and that puts them at risk. It makes you liable. So, lock it up,” said University of Washington Medicine pediatrician, Dr. Beth Ebel. “If a kid gets this, they could quickly exceed the dose and cause themselves serious harm.”   

Ebel recommends using a medication safe to store substances that may be dangerous for kids.

“We are seeing this all day long. My emergency department friends see kids coming in and they are trying to decide, does this child have bleeding in her brain or a brain tumor? Or is this a child who really has a low level of consciousness because they have ingested something?” Ebel said.

“There are no safety studies on these products, and they have some significant and sometimes irreversible risks,” the pediatrician added. “One of the very concerning things is that these high potency products have a strong association with schizophrenia and a psychotic break. I’ve seen kids in the hospital who’ve been using some of these higher potency products: young kids doing great in school, and they come to [Harborview Medical Center] after a psychotic break. Sometimes this is a lifelong onset of schizophrenia, and it can be precipitated by these potent products.”