Minnesota state health officials warned Wednesday that small children are getting their hands on the flavored juice used in e-cigarettes and poisoning themselves with nicotine at an alarming rate.

The Minnesota Poison Control System reported 62 cases of e-cigarette and e-juice poisonings among children from birth to 5 years old last year, up an astounding 35 percent from 2013 — according to the state Health Department.

This is the second straight year of “significant increases in nicotine poisonings related to e-cigarette products,” which often have enough nicotine to be fatal to children.

“Children may mistake the e-juice for candy or a drink,” a Health Department statement said.

To help fight the problem a state law took effect in January that requires e-juice to be sold in child-resistant packaging, in what Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger called “a big step to keep kids from accidentally ingesting these potentially fatal e-liquids. But parents should still use caution and store the products out of the reach of children.”

The state’s health agency warns that nicotine can harm brain development during adolescence in addition to harming brain and lung development in fetuses.

Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, seizures and/or difficulty breathing.

The problem isn’t just in one state but across the nation. E-cigarettes are rapidly growing, up double digit year on year, and with them the associated health issues. Many states are currently looking at legislation to restrict their use or add other safety measures, like childproof caps on liquids, in order to improve safety in the young industry.

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