A Kentucky mother is urging children and teenagers to stop playing the "cinnamon challenge" after the death of her 4-year-old son Matthew, who climbed on top of the kitchen counter and ingested the spice.    

Matthew was rushed to a Kentucky hospital after he was found choking, and was pronounced dead an hour and a half later as a result of asphyxiation. After the cinnamon was consumed, some of the powder made its way into Matthew’s lungs. The coroner ruled the death accidental and said that asphyxiation due to cinnamon ingestion is a common problem when the household ingredient is inhaled.

“He started choking. It was like he was having a seizure and just collapsed,” the mother, Brianna Radar, told WLEX.

As a result of this incident, she is going public about ingesting cinnamon, specifically about the popular game among youth called the “cinnamon challenge.” It became popular in the past few years thanks to social media and websites that have posted more than 40,000 videos of people failing as they attempt the challenge. The challenge is to take one spoonful of cinnamon and try to swallow it within 60 seconds of consuming it without drinking anything. Even the former governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, took the challenge.

In a press release in March of 2012, the American Association of Position Control Centers (AAPCC) issued a warning about the rise of the challenge. Their collected data showed that in 2011, poison centers received 51 calls about teen exposure to cinnamon and that in the first three months, the number had gone up to 139 calls.

Even when cinnamon is consumed in large doses and the end result isn’t death, something that is rare, it can still be a health hazard, “causing inflammation and scarring of the lungs,” Dr. Steven Lipshultz, the author of the AAPCC report and professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami, told The New York Times.

When you do a YouTube search for “cinnamon challenge” in 2015, the search yields 209,000 videos. Evidently, there are still people doing it. Some of the videos in this search have gotten over half a million views on the site. It's for this reason, Radar continues to caution youth about the dangers of consuming the spice recklessly.

“Cinnamon can kill,” she said. “All these kids, they don’t think about the fact it can hurt them.”