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Three Toddlers Hospitalized After Eating Goldfish Crackers Laced With THC At Daycare

Photo: Alp Aksoy / Shutterstock
Goldfish crackers

A Virginia daycare owner has been arrested and charged after three toddlers consumed THC in her care.

The toddlers, all aged one, were taken to Stafford Hospital Center last month after their parents noticed the children's "lethargic and uncoordinated behavior" and "glassy, bloodshot eyes," according to a press release.

Once the children were at the hospital, staff "quickly recognized" the symptoms and were able to figure out that they had suffered from THC exposure, which was later confirmed through tests done. 

The toddlers were allegedly fed THC-laced goldfish crackers at a Virginia daycare.

In the press release, THC was described as "the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation."

Deputy A.J. Deasy responded to the incident at the hospital, and authorities were able to determine the common link between all three children was Rebecca Swanner's, 60, daycare center.

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Detectives then searched the entirety of the daycare center in Windsor Forest in Virginia, and located goldfish crackers near the highchairs of the toddlers.

Lab testing confirmed that the snacks were laced with THC, though information regarding how the THC got into the snacks has not been released.

Child Protective Services were alerted and the daycare "voluntarily surrendered their license," according to the press release. Swanner also turned herself into police custody and was charged with three counts of cruelty and injury to children. She was released on a $2,000 unsecured bond.

"I don't know what to say," a neighbor told WUSA 9, adding, "It's just unbelievable hearing that."

The Virginia daycare worker was well-respected in her community.

Another neighbor shared that Swanner has "had a daycare since we've known her — we moved in in 2000. Everything has always been above board so this is totally, totally shocking. The neighbor also said that Swanner had an "outstanding reputation ... as far as childcare goes in the neighborhood, she's the go-to person."

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According to Fiorella Carhuaz, a Pubic Health Educator for the States Poison Center, there has been an increase in children ingesting edibles.

“We’ve seen an increase in children getting into cannabis or marijuana edibles,” Carhuaz said, adding that in 2020 there were 27 cases reported across the state of children five and younger. 

That number almost doubled to 52 reported cases in 2021. So far, in 2022 there have been 18 reported cases of children five and younger ingesting edibles as of the end of March.

"You should call poison control if you start noticing that your child has trouble walking, they’re not making a lot of sense, sometimes have trouble breathing, they str at vomiting, even seizure,” Carhuaz told NBC 12.

“This is quite problematic because they can end up in the intensive care unit.”

Carhuaz blames the increase in children eating THC-laced edibles on them not being stored properly and away from children's inquisitive eyes.

"All the children are seeing is a person eating a brownie and they will get to them. They will climb if they have to so locking things up is very important," she said, adding that there is a "two to three-hour window" before children will start showing symptoms and that adults should avoid eating edibles when children are present.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.