Should home ipecac-induced emesis be routinely recommended in the management of toxic berry ingestions?

Paul M. Wax, Daniel J. Cobaugh, Ruth A. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Poison center (PC) management of toxic berry ingestions may include recommendations to administer syrup of ipecac (SI) regardless of the number of berries ingested. We investigated whether the routine use of SI in the home management of asymptomatic single or few (<6) berry ingestions may be unnecessary. A prospective, randomized clinical trial compared SI + home observation (HO) to HO alone for management of pediatric toxic berry ingestions. Subjects were children 9 mo to 5 y who ingested a small number (<6) of Taxus sp (yew), Solanum americanus (nightshade), Ilex sp (holly) or unknown potentially toxic berries. Exclusions were symptomatic subjects, ingestion of more than 1 type of berry or other plant part, or contraindication to SI. Outcome variables consisting of symptom assessment and disposition were assessed 24 h following the ingestion. Over a 27-mo period 103 subjects were entered into the study; 45 received SI/HO and 51 received only HO. While 100% of the SI/HO group experienced vomiting, none of the HO group vomited. Diarrhea and sedation were more common in the SI/HO group. Use of SI in the home management of young children who ingest fewer than 6 toxic berries (yew, nightshade, holly or unknown) and who are asymptomatic when the PC is contacted may be responsible for the majority of symptoms. Ingestion of small amounts of berries may require no intervention beyond observation. Methodological limitations of this study included the lack of confirmed identification of the berries and the inability to confirm ingestion and absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-397
Number of pages4
JournalVeterinary and Human Toxicology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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