The Cinnamon Challenge Seems Innocent, But Triad Father Says Son Experienced Violent Reaction

10:50 PM, Apr 1, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC --  It's called the Cinnamon Challenge, but kids aren't using it to bake or flavor their food.

They're trying to swallow it by the spoonful, and a new study finds the numbers are soaring.

In 2011, poison centers received 51 calls about teen exposure to cinnamon.

That jumped to 139 calls in the first three months of this year.

122 of those were classified as intentional misuse or abuse and 30 required medical evaluation.

Dozens of YouTube videos show different young people trying to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without anything to wash it down.

It causes them to gag, throw up and have trouble breathing. 

A Greensboro man's 14-year-old son took the challenge Friday night.

He didn't want to show his face or use his real name in order to protect his son's identity.

So, we chose to just call him "Jim".

"Jim" said his son tried the challenge with friends. The fine cinnamon powder caused his son to throw up.  It made his throat dry, and he became physically sick.

"As a parent I think it's our duty to bring these situations to the forefront so other parents can be aware of it, and if it helps one it will be worth it," concluded "Jim."

"Jim" said his son recovered and did not need to see a doctor, but he knows his son learned a valuable lesson that night and won't do it again.

"As I explained to my son, life is not a video game where you can hit the reset button. We could've very well been planning a funeral, or better yet he could've been feeling guilty to something that happened to one of his best friends over a silly game," stated "Jim." 


We asked Dr. Evan Corey why someone would try this, how much harm it can do and what parents can do in response?

WFMY News 2: Our big question is, why?

Dr. Corey: Why? That's a tough question. I think it's kind of an exciting and different thing to do, and it's on the internet. It's exciting to watch on the internet for sure and it's something teenagers are always going to have something to do.

WFMY News 2: But parents are issuing warnings because it's not funny when it gets to you, doctor.

Dr. Corey: No not at all. It potentially can be dangerous. The poison control centers issued a report just on the 28th of March that said they've had 133 reports in the first 3 months of this year. And one child went to the hospital with a pretty bad pneumonia. So it potentially can be a pretty dangerous thing.

WFMY News 2: We were talking a little earlier about asthma about being one of the things that can be triggered.

Dr. Corey: Absolutely. You can watch in these videos, everyone is coughing, and if an irritant is going to get into your lung and in your airway, for healthy lungs, you can imagine how potentially damaging for someone who already has the setup for having problems like with asthma.

WFMY News 2: What do you say to get it across to kids that this may not be it?

Dr. Corey: You just try to reinforce that it's dangerous. Teenagers will be teenagers and you hope that they're going to have some judgment and be safe.

WFMY News 2: Parents, if you see something, see the symptoms, what do the parents need to do?

Dr. Corey: The main thing is, are they breathing comfortably and well following the Cinnamon Challenge? If they are, it's probably okay. If you're worried, you can always call your doctor's office. Most doctors have an after-hours nurse line, or if you're really concerned, you can take them to the emergency, or if it's day time hours to your doctor's office or urgent care.

WFMY News 2

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