Butane, found in lighters, wasn't very commonly used but was linked to the most deaths. Propane, air fresheners, nitrous oxide and carburetor cleaners were also especially likely to cause death, the researchers found.
Smaller numbers of cases -- in the hundreds -- involved typewriter correction fluid, ink markers and hair spray, among other products.
"Only two product categories were implicated more frequently in cases that involved girls compared to boys: nail products and hair sprays," study co-author Litovitz said.
Few of the 30,094 reported cases of use of a single inhalant resulted in death. There were 167 deaths and 705 cases of "major" health effects, the study authors reported.
The message of the study is that inhalants are hazardous, said Dr. Robert Balster, director of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. "The notion some parents have that experimentation with inhalants is a harmless phase that many youth go through is clearly wrong. Inhalants are very dangerous, and need to be treated that way."
Johnston said it's time for another public awareness campaign about the hazards of inhalants like the one in the 1990s that may have helped lower the use of inhalants.
Younger teens are probably at highest risk because older teens move on to drugs that they consider to be more "grown up," Johnston said. But the younger adolescents "probably don't realize the risks in many cases."
The study findings are published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.
For more on inhalant abuse, try the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
SOURCES: Toby Litovitz, M.D. executive and medical director, National Capital Poison Center, Washington, D.C.; Robert Balster, Ph.D., director, Institute
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