Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin says eight teens have been hospitalized with serious lung damage believed to have been caused by vaping.

The hospital said it reported the cases to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in July.

All of the patients reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to being hospitalized.

An exact cause is unknown, but the state is investigating.

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"The number of patients in such a short time frame is concerning," the hospital said.

Doctors are warning parents and teens of the potential risks associated with vaping.

"E-cigarette cartridges can contain toxic chemicals that have been shown to damage lungs," the hospital said. "Because these products are still new, the long-term effects of use are not fully understood."

The patients experienced shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough and weight loss.

The severity of their symptoms varied.

"It is believed prolonged or continued exposure to these chemicals could lead to more serious health issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a permanent condition which makes lungs less effective at transporting oxygen and is permanent," doctors said.

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Some patients needed assistance breathing, the hospital said.

Dr. Luella Amos said it's not known how long the patients will have health issues.

The American Lung Association said it has always held that vaping is not safe, especially for teens.

"The candy and fruit-flavorings that so many youth find appealing also contain chemicals known to cause irreparable lung damage," the executive director said. "These flavorings are designed to tempt kids and give the false impression that e-cigarettes are safe."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said inhaled e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless water vapor but "can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including: Nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead."

About 3.6 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes last year, according to the CDC.

“Vaping in teenagers is something that's causing harm to our kids and we want that message to be loud and clear,” Dr. Michael Gutzeit said.

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