Do not take the cinnamon challenge. That is the advice from doctors in a new report about a dangerous prank depicted in YouTube videos which has led to hospitalizations.
The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. However, the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Published online yesterday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens in the US needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year.
The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank “has increased dramatically,” from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Thousands of YouTube videos depict kids attempting the challenge, resulting in an “orange burst of dragon breath” and sometimes hysterical laughter from friends, said report co-author Steven Lipshultz, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Animal research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the lungs, it can cause scarring, Lipshultz said.
Dejah Reed, 16, from Michigan said she took the challenge four times.
The final time, “I was laughing very hard and I coughed it out and I inhaled it into my lungs,” she said. “I couldn’t breathe.”
She was hospitalized for four days and went home with an inhaler, which she still has to use.