Electronic cigarettes pose poisoning risk to small childrenlindsay-fox/Flickr

Electronic cigarettes can be life-threatening for small children, caution experts, who noticed a recent surge in the number of children being rushed to the emergency room for accidentally ingesting the e-cigarette liquid.

"Accidental exposure by children to e-cigarettes is a public health concern that we need to take seriously," LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, told USA TODAY. "Parents need to be aware of the potential dangers to their children."

Most of the products available in the market lack any child-resistant caps and contain high doses of nicotine. Even a low exposure to the nicotine in the e-cigarettes can cause adverse health outcomes including coma and death, USA TODAY reported.

"At the end of the day, everything's attractive to kids," explained Ray Story, chief executive officer of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.

"They either ingest the liquid or get it onto their skin. Even on the skin, the nicotine is absorbed," Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Kosair Children's Hospital, added to the website.

Even though e-cigarettes haven't claimed any lives, there exist reports of a significant number of children seeking medical help for experiencing fast heartbeat, headache, vomiting, sweating, hyperactivity, flushing, dizziness and diarrhoea after swallowing the liquid.

E-cigarettes have always been a topic of discussion since it was first launched in the Chinese markets in 2004. The main purpose was helping people quit smoking.

They soon received wide attention and became very popular. According to the supporters, e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes as they provide less nicotine than the latter, and do not contain the cancer-causing toxins or produce harmful substances associated with smoking real cigarettes (tar and carbon monoxide).  

However, they were not fully free from concerns. A team of American researchers reported recently that e-cigarettes cannot help stop smoking, on the other hand, can turn youngsters into dual smokers, making them smoke more nicotine. Reports show that like the second-hand smoke associated with cigarettes, the e-cigarettes produce second-hand vapour that can irritate eyes, nose and throat.

However, latest research has also shown that the second-hand exposure to nicotine provided by e-cigarettes is 10 times lesser than the traditional cigarettes.