A 13-year-old in Ohio has died after “he took a bunch of Benadryl,” trying a dangerous TikTok challenge that’s circulating online, according to a CNN affiliate and a GoFundMe account from his family.
Jacob Stevens was participating in a TikTok challenge with some friends at home when he ingested the antihistamine, the family donation account states. Jacob was on a ventilator for almost a week before he died, according to WSYX.
CNN has not independently confirmed his cause of death.
Overdosing on Benadryl can result in “serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death,” the US Food and Drug Administration said in a 2020 warning to the public about the deadly “Benadryl Challenge” on TikTok.
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Jacob’s grandmother is doing anything she can “to make sure another child doesn’t go through” with the challenge, she told CNN affiliate WSYX.
In a statement to CNN, TikTok said, “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family. At TikTok, we strictly prohibit and remove content that promotes dangerous behavior with the safety of our community as a priority. We have never seen this type of content trend on our platform and have blocked searches for years to help discourage copycat behavior. Our team of 40,000 safety professionals works to remove violations of our Community Guidelines and we encourage our community to report any content or accounts they’re concerned about.”
The maker of Benadryl, Johnson & Johnson, has called the challenge “dangerous.”
“We understand that consumers may have heard about an online ‘challenge’ involving the misuse or abuse of diphenhydramine,” the undated online statement reads.
“The challenge, which involves ingestion of excessive quantities of diphenhydramine, is a dangerous trend and should be stopped immediately. BENADRYL® products and other diphenhydramine products should only be used as directed by the label.”
“We are working with TikTok and other social platforms to remove content that showcases this behavior,” the statement added. “We will look to partner across industry and with key stakeholders to address this dangerous behavior.”
CNN has reached out to the Stevens family and Columbus Public Health for comment.
The FDA’s 2020 warning said the agency had “contacted TikTok and strongly urged them to remove the videos from their platform and to be vigilant to remove additional videos that may be posted.”
Benadryl is an antihistamine used to treat symptoms such as a runny nose or sneezing from upper respiratory allergies, hay fever or the common cold. It’s safe and effective when used as recommended, the FDA said.
“Diphenhydramine is marketed under the brand-name Benadryl, store brands, and generics. It is also available in combination with pain relievers, fever reducers, and decongestants,” the agency said.
Consumers and parents should store Benadryl and other over-the-counter medications and prescription medicines out of the reach of children, the FDA said.