The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is investigating a potential link between seizures and vaping after receiving dozens of voluntary reports over a nearly 10-year period.
The agency said Wednesday that after observing a “slight but noticeable” uptick in voluntary reports related to seizures, it referred to poison control centers and its own incident reports stretching back nearly a decade and discovered 35 seizure cases that specifically mentioned vaping. The FDA said that most of these cases were in young adults or kids.
In a statement about the FDA’s announcement, outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reiterated that e-cigarettes are not without health risks, particularly in youth. However, Gottlieb did stress that more information is needed about any potential correlation between e-cigarettes and seizures, including additional research and incident reports.
“While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases,” Gottlieb said. “We also recognize that not all of the cases may be reported. We believe these 35 cases warrant scientific investigation into whether there is in fact a connection.”
Among those 35 cases of vaping-related seizures reported, a few cases were in individuals who had previously experienced them. The FDA also noted that a few cases involved a combination of vape products with other substances, including amphetamines or weed.
Liz Mair, a strategist with Vapers United, noted “mixing different products containing different chemicals together is generally inadvisable, which is why you don’t mix certain pharmaceuticals with alcohol consumption.”
“The FDA should look into all this, but it’s important to note that the data as reported support no conclusions at this stage and people should exercise caution in drawing a conclusion that use of vapor means seizures,” she added.
Gottlieb said that the agency decided to share the information publicly because it’s the job of the FDA to “communicate about potential safety concerns associated with the products we regulate that are under scientific investigation by the agency.” He said the announcement was also intended to urge more people to report any adverse health effects they believe are linked to vaping.
The FDA said that anyone who thinks they are having a seizure should seek medical attention immediately.