(WAVY) – More and more kids under the age of five are getting ahold of edibles containing THC.

As alarming as this sounds, there’s been a 2,300% increase in THC overdoses in kids 5 and under in Virginia in the past five years, and in some cases, it can be deadly.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in pediatric exposures,” said Dr. Rutherfoord “Ruddy” Rose from the Virginia Poison Center. “Some of these products have a significant amount of THC and it could be delta-8, delta-9, delta-10, sometimes you can tell, sometimes you can’t.”

Rose said these products should be kept out of reach of kids just like any other medications, but the packaging can be so deceiving, especially to a child.

“Edibles that look like candy packages or Dorito chips, Fritos, those types of edibles is what I’m seeing more of than cookies or things that you can bake at your home,” said Virginia Beach Police Sgt. Derek Reed.

Reed recently served as a narcotics detective and said police are seeing more edibles on the streets because of recent law changes regarding marijuana.

Reed said a lot of the products that contain delta-8 are being shipped in from out of state and usually have a warning label on the packaging.

“Even though it may look like candy there’s something on it saying this is a THC product or containing some type of delta-8,” Reed said.

“Some of the products will have a label on it with a dose but some of them won’t and actually some testing of the products shows the label might not be accurate,” Rose said.

The number of calls to poison control centers about kids 5 and under consuming edibles containing THC rose from about 207 in 2017 to more than 3,054 in 2021.

In Virginia, the Poison Center has seen a 2,300% percent increase in THC-related calls from 2018 to 2022.

Rose said they’re seeing higher edible use among adults and teens based on calls to the Virginia Poison Center, but kids are more likely to have more drastic side effects because of their size.

“There are a few deaths reported sporadically around the country from very large overdoses of these things,” Rose said. “Even a small dose can cause a lot of harm.”

Rose said they’ve also seen mass overdoses at schools when kids or teens hand out these products in the hallways.

Three students from Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach went to the hospital earlier this year after eating gummies laced with THC.

Rose said teenagers should take this as a warning that sometimes it doesn’t take much to make someone really sick.

“Teenagers have this impression that its never going to happen to them and that makes it difficult,” Rose said. “How do you know what’s in the gummy? How do you know the strength of what’s in the gummy? You typically don’t.”

“These drugs may have one effect one day but then the next day it could be worse so you never want to take that chance,” Reed said. “Some of the side effects could be hallucinations, vomiting, some type of anxiety and even in serious cases they could pass out or be unconscious.”

Rose said if you look at all poison center calls for kids under 6, it’s about a 13% rate of being evaluated in a hospital, but for edibles its a 78% rate of kids being treated in a hospital, and 8% are going to the ICU.

“I think probably the common denominator is these are in things that are marketed to children,” Rose said. “They need to be out of their sight out of their reach, especially if the drug product looks like candy or food its even more important to do that.”

Rose said if your child has accidentally eaten one of these products, they may seem fussy, sleepy or out of the ordinary.

“A child that seems fussy or agitated, out of the ordinary, is wobbly when they walk, their eyes may seem smaller or dilated,” Rose said. “If a child is unconscious or can’t be woken up, is having difficulty breathing or is having convulsions or seizures then that clearly is a call for 911.”

Rose said it’s important to “poison-proof” your home, so these products don’t fall into the wrong hands.

“If you think your child has gotten into one of these, don’t be embarrassed call the poison center let us help you,” Rose said. “You’ll get help and you’ll get non-judgmental and confidential help.”

The 24/7 Poison Control hotline number is 800-222-1222. You’ll talk with a registered nurse who specializes in poison information and has access to the latest information about symptoms and treatments.

The Poison Centers who serve Virginia have sent their data to the state legislature.

They say these numbers are concerning and hope the legislature will discuss outlawing edibles that resemble food products that appeal to kids in the state.