Health & Wellness

Intentional Misuse of Common Baking Ingredients Sends Kids to Hospitals

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and marshmallows aren’t supposed to be harmful, except when they are used in some dangerous activities, such as in the form of “Cinnamon Challenge” or “Chubby Bunny,” an expert warns.

HealthDay reports that doctors at Loyola University Health System’s emergency department recently treated a group of 9-year-olds who tried the so-called Cinnamon Challenge, a game that dares people to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without drinking water. There are a handful of videos circulating on the Web which demonstrates how this activity is done.

“The dry, loose cinnamon triggers a violent coughing effect and also a burning sensation that actually can lead to breathing and choking hazards,” Dr. Christina Hantsch, a toxicologist in the department of emergency medicine, said in a Loyola news release.

In the first three months of 2012, the U.S. poison centers have received 139 calls about teen exposure to cinnamon. More than 120 of the calls were classified as intentional misuse or abuse and 30 of the teens required medical evaluation, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Another potentially dangerous fad is the Chubby Bunny which involves stuffing as much marshmallows into one’s own mouth. “You stuff as many marshmallows in your mouth as possible and then try to say the words ‘chubby bunny,'” Hantsch said. “Two children have actually choked to death attempting this game so it is not to be taken lightly.”

Hantsch also noted that some young people snort, smoke or eat large quantities of ground nutmeg in order to get a marijuana-like high. She said this popular spice “contains myristicin, which is a hallucinogenic, like LSD.” Hantsch advised parents to keep an eye on their children, especially with the holidays still upon us, to make sure the kids are “are using the ingredients for their proper use.”

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