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Asthma, ADHD common among teens with vaping lung injury

Teenagers with asthma and a history of mental, behavioral or emotional disorders appear to be more prone to vaping-associated lung damage, according to an analysis published Monday by JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that EVALI — e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury — was up to four times more common among teens 13 to 17 with a history of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder than those without the disorder.

In addition, the prevalence of asthma among adolescents with EVALI was more than 50 percent higher than in teens without the breathing condition.

“Compared with adults, adolescents with EVALI were more likely to have a history of asthma and some mental, emotional or behavioral disorders, such as ADHD, and to report gastrointestinal and constitutional symptoms,” study co-author Susan Hocevar Adkins, senior medical officer and commander of the U.S. Public Health Service at the CDC, told UPI.

“These findings highlight the importance of healthcare providers obtaining a confidential substance use history from adolescent patients that includes e-cigarette, or vaping, product use,” she added.

More than 2,800 people in the United States developed EVALI in 2019, and 68 of them died, according to the CDC. Many of the cases were linked to use of illicit vaping products containing THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — that used vitamin E acetate as a diluent.

For the study, the CDC team reviewed data on more than 2,100 EVALI cases, including 360 adolescents between ages 13 and 17, 859 young adults between ages 18 and 24 and 936 adults between ages 25 and 49. All of the EVALI patients included in the analysis were hospitalized for or died of EVALI.

More than 62 percent of adolescents diagnosed with EVALI reported using nicotine-containing vaping products, while nearly 82 percent said they used THC-containing vaping products, the CDC researchers found. More than half said they used both.

The CDC researchers found that more than 18 percent of the adolescents with EVALI had a history of ADHD, compared to less than 5 percent of adults. ADHD has been associated with “risk-taking behaviors,” including substance use, the authors noted.

Nearly 44 percent of adolescents with lung injury had a history of asthma, compared to just over 28 percent of adults, researchers said. More adolescents than adults reported gastrointestinal problems, 91 percent to 75 percent, as well as “constitutional” symptoms — like fever, chills or malaise — which were seen in 97 percent of adolescents, compared to 95 percent of adults.

“Adolescents should continue to be informed about the risks of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products — especially THC-containing products,” Adkins said.

“It is important for parents to communicate with their children about the risks of youth use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products,” she added. “CDC offers a Talk With Your Teen About E-cigarettes tip sheet to help parents talk with their children about why e-cigarettes are harmful for them.”

Brian Dunleavy/UPI