November 3, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY--In light of new recommendations that ipecac syrup not be used to induce vomiting in case of child poisoning, Utahns should contact the Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) or their physicians before administering ipecac.

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines stating that ipecac syrup should no longer be used routinely as a poison treatment intervention in the home. The AAP recommendations are based on a lack of clear evidence of ipecac's benefit and the risk of people abusing the product.

The UPCC, which is part of the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, has recommended the use of ipecac syrup for certain childhood poisonings since 1971. Other poison centers nationwide have recommended the emetic as well. This year, the UPCC has advised ipecac be administered at home in 146 situations out of 34,095 calls received. Discontinuing its use will change practice in Utah for a small number of possible poisonings.

"The poison control center is available 24 hours a day for assistance during a possible poisoning emergency," said Barbara Crouch, Pharm.D., M.S.P.H., UPCC director and associate professor of pharmacy practice. "Before initiating any first aid for poisoning, call the poison center or your doctor first."

Following the AAP's new recommendations, the UPCC and Utah Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics/Intermountain Pediatric Society have issued these suggestions:

  • In case of poisoning or possible poisoning contact the Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, or contact your physician.
  • Ipecac syrup that has not expired need not be thrown out. But do not use ipecac before consulting with the UPCC or your physician.
  • Do not use any first aid or home remedy before consulting the UPCC or your physician.
  • Do not buy activated charcoal. The UPCC does not recommend home use of this product.

Alternative home treatments for poisoning, such as activated charcoal or natural products, have not been shown to be effective, and in some cases are not safe or feasible to administer. Because of this, both the Utah Poison Control Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend use of these products in the home.

For more information, call The Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.