Children in middle school are increasingly experimenting with inhalants, with one in four eighth graders acknowledging they had tried getting high by "huffing," a study released Tuesday indicated.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (search) reported that abuse of inhalants had increased significantly among sixth and eighth grade students.

Among sixth graders, the number of children using inhalants increased from 18 percent in 1991 to 26 percent last year. Among eight graders, inhalant users went from 22 percent to 26 percent.

"It's clear that this new generation of preteens has a lot to learn about the lethal nature of inhalant abuse," said Steve Pasierb (search), partnership president and CEO.

Particularly frightening was the study's discovery that fewer children saw any risk in using inhalants, said Pasierb. According to the study, only 63 percent of eighth graders believed that using inhalants could prove deadly.

Two years ago, that figure was 73 percent.

Household products such as paint thinners, glue and correction fluids are "huffed" by youths seeking a cheap high. Inhalants can produce serious side effects, including nausea, seizures, heart palpitations and vomiting. Over time, they can lead to brain damage and death.

The study involved interviews with 7,270 adolescents nationwide, along with an additional sample of 1,140 sixth graders. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percent.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, launched in 1987, is a coalition of communications professionals aimed at reducing the demand for illegal drugs.