News | Published May 28, 2013

The Cinnamon Challenge trends on the Web. What is it? What are the dangers?

It is hard for parents to stay up-to-date with all the potential dangers that their children can be exposed to on the Internet and at school.

The latest Internet sensation is the Cinnamon Challenge, and doctors are warning about the health dangers of this prank.

As reported on NBCNews.com, “The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs.”

Pediatrics magazine published a report about the Cinnamon Challenge earlier this month, stating that about 30 teens around the US have sought medical attention due to the prank.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported a jump in calls related to the Cinnamon Challenge. In 2011, they logged 51 calls, and that number increased to 222 in 2012 – possibly due to popular viral videos on YouTube.

These videos show kids completing the challenge which results in the participant spitting out a cloud of orange, like a dragon breathing fire.

While the prank only lasts a minute, the health impacts could last a lifetime in the form of breathing problems and asthma.

One Michigan teenager told NBCNews.com that she took the challenge multiple times, the most recent – and final – time in February. While attempting the prank she inhaled the cinnamon and couldn’t breathe. When her father arrived home he said his daughter, Dejah, was “a pale bluish color.” He immediately took her to their local emergency room where the 16-year-old was hospitalized for several days with a collapsed lung.

Dejah, who now has to use an inhaler when she gets winded, even though she never had breathing problems before, now knows that the Cinnamon Challenge is “Not cool and it’s dangerous.”

Dejah has started a website to encourage people to “just say no” to the Cinnamon Challenge. Visit it at nocinnamonchallenge.com.

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