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16 kids taken to hospitals after taking nicotine lozenges

Sick students lead Chicago Fire Dept. ambulance Wendell Green elementary school W. 96th St.  Wednesday February 20 2013.

Sick students lead to Chicago Fire Dept. ambulance at the Wendell Green elementary school on W. 96th St., Wednesday, February 20, 2013. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 20, 2013 12:04PM

Sixteen 9- and 10-year-old children were taken to hospitals from a South Side elementary school Wednesday morning after they ingested nicotine mints.

The children had ingested NiQuitin minis, an over-the-counter mint made for people trying to quit smoking, Fire Media said.

According to the company’s website, NiQuitin minis release their full dose of nicotine three times faster than nicotine gum.

Although the conditions of the children were unavailable, nicotine poisoning can cause vomiting, rapid breathing and headache. Serious cases can result in convulsions and coma.

An EMS Plan I, which sends at least five ambulances, was called about 10 a.m. at Wendell Green Elementary School at 1150 W. 96th St., according to Fire Media Affairs.

Initial reports from the Chicago Fire Department were that ambulances were called after some children became ill at the school.

A total of 18 children, ages 9 and 10, were checked by paramedics, according to Fire Media. Sixteen of them, all in good condition, were taken to hospitals, and two refused further medical treatment. The hospitals included Little Company of Mary in Evergreen Park, Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Trinity Hospital and MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island.

A spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools said the students were taken a “precautionary measure.”

“At no time was there a threat to the safety of the school,” CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said in a statement.

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