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Syrup of Ipecac No Longer Recommended for Child Poisoning


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Every year poison control centers across the country get over one million phone calls related to poison emergencies involving children under six years of age.

Now there's new advice for parents when faced with this situation.

For decades pediatricians have encouraged parents to keep a bottle of syrup of Ipecac at home to be used in case of an accidental poisoning. But now the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its position. It no longer recommends Ipecac.

Barbara Insley Crouch/ Pharmacist Doctor: "IT'S A NATURAL PRODUCT THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR EVER AND EVER AND IT INDUCES VOMITING BY AN IRRITANT EFFECT."

Pharmacist Doctor Barbara Insley Crouch is director of the Utah Poison Control Center. She says the change is based on a lack of evidence that Ipecac helps.

"CHILDHOOD POISONINGS DO WELL. THAT'S WHY 90% OF THE ONES THAT WE GET CALLED ABOUT ARE MANAGED AT HOME WITH TELEPHONE FOLLOW-UP. THEY DO FINE. SO WHY TREAT THEM WITH SOMETHING THAT, ALTHOUGH IT'S NOT ALL THAT HARMFUL, IT'S NOT INNOCUOUS. HAVING A CHILD VOMIT IS NOT A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE."

What's more, depending on what was accidentally swallowed, Ipecac could make things worse.

"CLEANING SUBSTANCE THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE AN IRRITANT OR BURN, IF IT BURNS GOING DOWN IT COULD BURN ON THE WAY BACK. SO THAT WOULD BE ANOTHER SITUATION WHERE THE USE OF EMETIC IPECAC WOULD BE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS."

Dr. Kim Mulvihill/ Healthbeat: "IF YOU HAVE A BOTTLE IN YOUR FIRST AID KIT AT HOME, YOU DON'T HAVE TO THROW IT OUT. JUST DON'T USE IT WITHOUT CHECKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR OR POISON CONTROL CENTER FIRST."

"THE POISON CENTER IS OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK SO YOU CAN ALWAYS REACH A SPECIALIST IN POISON INFORMATION. THERE'S A PHARMACIST AND NURSE TRAINED TO HANDLE THOSE SITUATIONS."

"THAT SPECIALIST IS GOING TO INSTRUCT THE PERSON ON WHAT TO DO, WHETHER OR NOT IT'S FIRST AID AT HOME OR WHETHER OR NOT THEY NEED A REFERRAL IN THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT."

To reach the Poison Control Center call 1-800-222-1222.

The Poison Center can help with questions about household products, chemicals at work or in the environment, drugs (over-the-counter, prescription, herbal remedies). Also snake bites, spider bites, and scorpion stings.

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