By Mike DeNardo

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Five Philadelphia schoolchildren are hospitalized, after playing a game called the “cinnamon challenge.”

A district spokesman says nine children were trying to swallow spoonfuls of dry cinnamon, and five of them wound up going to the hospital. It happened during lunch at the Richard Wright School at 27th and Dauphin in Strawberry Mansion. District spokesman Fernando Gallard says the five were taken to the hospital by ambulance after they displayed abnormalities in their vital signs.

“A mix of boys and girls, fifth-graders. They were in good condition. We transported them to St. Christopher’s for observation,” Gallard said.

Doctors warn that swallowing dry cinnamon can cause choking, and children risk pneumonia if they breathe the cinnamon into their lungs. Gallard says as far as he knows, this is the first time Philadelphia students were sickened playing the cinnamon game.

“This is a serious thing where you put cinnamon in your mouth,” he said. “It could really overwhelm you especially if you have asthma, it might trigger an asthma attack which could be deadly.”

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