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Police Issue Warning After 10 Kids Have Been Hospitalized With Burns After Reportedly Trying the TikTok "Hot Gum" or "Trouble Bubble" Challenge

Elementary school kids rushed to the hospital by ambulance after TikTok challenge.

A gum called Trouble Bubble is taking the heat for being the world's spiciest gum and literally sending kids to the ER, prompting authorities to issue a warning. School officials and police in Southborough, Massachusetts, are urgently advising people about the dangerous TikTok trend that's burning up the internet right now. The harmful craze that started back in 2021 is called the "hot gum" or "trouble bubble" challenge after ten young children were reportedly hospitalized in the last few days after attempting it. Here's what to know about chewing gum and why it's unsafe. 

The Gum Contains the Same Ingredients as Pepper Spray, According to Police

Southborough Police Department/Facebook

In a public warning issued on Facebook, the Southborough police revealed that the gum should be avoided as it has the same ingredients as pepper spray. "The Town of Orange had several students transported to area hospitals yesterday after participating in a 'TikTok gum challenge.' as well as several other vendors sell a chewing gum that contains the same active ingredient as police pepper spray, oleoresin capsicum. Police level pepper spray is normally rated to one to two million Scoville heat units. This is a way to measure the amount of heat an individual feels when they come into contact."

Police Say Anyone Who's Used to the Gum Should Be Treated


With so many kids racing to the ER after chewing the gum, police are warning anyone who has used the gum to be treated. "This gum is rated at 16 million Scoville Heat Units, the news release stated. "Anyone found to have used the gum should be treated for extensive exposure to oleoresin capsicum. Immediately have them rinse, swish around, spit out water. Do this as many times as possible. If, by chance, they have actually swallowed the saliva, they may vomit and have difficulty breathing. These individuals should be evaluated and transported to an emergency room."

Elementary School Children Are Taking Part in the Challenge


According to WRAL News, several elementary students were sent to the hospital as a result of the TikTok challenge. "It was something that you see in like a horror movie," said Kathleen Woodard, the mother of one sick child. "Honestly, it just kind of felt like these kids had been under attack." Last week Woodard received a call from Dexter Park Elementary School to pick up her 9-year-old son Michael who was vomiting. "They walked in, and, um, kids were crying, they were just lined up down the hall in the front hall area," Woodard said. "Like their hands were red, their faces were beet red and they were crying saying it hurt, some of them were like a deep red."

"You Don't Have to Chew the Gum to Feel the Burn"


According to Woodard, "You don't have to chew the gum to feel the burn." She added, "Nobody knew what they were dealing with. Nobody had heard of this," she said. "The doctor's fingers started burning from examining him. My arms were itching and burning." Woodard added that her son had to wear gloves until the "burn wore off." 

A Student Brought the Gum to School


WRAL News reports that a student brought the gum to recess and parents want answers. "You just hope that it's handled appropriately," Woodard said. "Just suspend her. These children suffered." Local outlet MassLive reports, "In a statement sent to school district parents, Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Teahan-Zielinski said one student purchased the gum online and offered it to several students during recess."

A Parent Warns Others to Check Kid's Online Search History

A close up of someone's hands using a phone and a laptop to access Google

Woodard is upset that this happened to her child and encourages parents to check their kid's online search history. "Parents really need to be okay with monitoring what their children are seeing or because they may not know really any child could make any decision. Nobody deserves this," she said. "You know, they were kind of blindsided."

Six Kids Were Taken to the Hospital by Ambulance

Ambulance emergency car in motion blur.

The elementary school kids who chewed the gum suffered severe symptoms and according to MassLive: "Immediately after the students ate the gum their mouths and throats began to burn and their stomachs swelled in pain. The gum caused skin reactions and eye irritation for some students who didn't eat it but touched it with their fingers or rubbed their eyes, according to the superintendent." The outlet added, "Six children were rushed to Heywood Hospital by ambulance, and multiple others were taken by parents."

The School is Investigating the Incident


There's many unanswered questions like where the child who distributed the gum got it, why was it allowed in school, how did the student give the gum to so many other kids without anyone noticing? Teahan-Zielinski stated proper measures were taken to ensure the safety of the children and that appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon the completion of the investigation.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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