Over the past decade, FDA has received at least 35 reports of seizures following e-cigarette use. The cases were reported by poison control centers nationwide, and through the FDA’s adverse event reporting system.
“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,” said Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA. “We also recognize that not all of the cases may be reported.”
The agency says it’s too early to determine for certain whether the seizures were caused by the e-cig devices, since there was no clear pattern among the cases. While some involved novice users, others were experienced. In several cases, the patients had a history of seizure diagnosis, as well as marijuana and amphetamine use.
FDA didn’t release the ages of those who had strokes, but noted that “some people who use e-cigarettes, especially youth and young adults, are experiencing seizures following their use.”
The agency also wasn’t able to determine which brands of e-cigs were linked to the incidents, since many of the reports lacked that data.
Michael Eriksen, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, put the potential risks in perspective. “It is 35 cases over 10 years. [That’s] three to five a year with millions of users. So [it’s a] one-in-a-million chance, while one out of two smokers die from smoking.”
Still, the warning adds to a growing body evidence that vaping may be riskier than previously suspected, especially for younger consumers.