New Recommendations for Parents about Using Syrup of Ipecac for Poisonings

New Recommendations for Parents about Using Syrup of Ipecac for Poisonings

SEATTLE - Syrup of Ipecac -- long recommended as a vomit-inducer for children who have swallowed poison. This extract from a South American plant makes most people throw up within 15 minutes. Parents were told to keep a bottle of the stuff on hand in case their kids ever ate something poisonous. However, recently the American Academy of Pediatrics released information recommending parents get rid of any syrup of Ipecac in their homes because they might use it before calling poison control.


Instead, the first step a parent or caregiver should take is to call the nearest poison-control center to determine if the child can be treated on the spot or needs a trip to the nearest emergency department for a dose of stomach-emptying activated charcoal, the organization said.

"We're not urging you to do that," says Dr. Bill Robertson, who runs the Washington State Poison Control Center. "We, and the other poison-control centers across the country, think that there are some occasions where syrup of Ipecac really is the thing to use. If presented with a poisoning, parents or caretakers should always call us first. At that point, we may recommend using it to induce vomiting at home if its an urgent need that can be done quicker than by going to a hospital."

So, if you decide to keep syrup of Ipecac in your home, there is one rule you must follow: Never use it to induce vomiting until you have called the poison-control center. If you suspect a poisoning, call them and they'll tell you what to do.

And according to Dr. Greg Sorensen, medical director of Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care, despite the four-year expiration date on each Syrup of Ipecac container, it still works after more than 20 years in your medicine cabinet.

Local Resource

Washington Poison Center (WPC) provides statewide, 24-hour telephone information to the public and health-care providers about poisonings and suspected poisonings. It also provides information regarding environmental and toxicological concerns. In fact, WPC is one of the busiest poison centers in the world based on its annual volume of inquiries. The center can provide on-line poison information and first-aid intervention in 140 languages.

To reach WPC in an emergency, Washington state residents should call the new national poison-control toll-free number at 1-800-222-1222. This is now the only phone number people will need to reach the WPC or any poison center across the country - anytime, anywhere.

For more information about the WPC, including how to obtain Mr. Yuk stickers and poison-prevention materials, click here.

To read the AAP's news release about this, click here.

And to read a helpful question-and-answer piece titled "Poison Treatment in the Home" that the AAP distributed along with the above news release, click here.


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