Friday, December 18, 2009

Its Safe to Decorate with Plants for the Holidays

Although urban legend may be filled with stories about the horrors of accidentally ingesting holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe, in reality there is little to fear, according to the Alexandria, VA-based American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Poison control centers received 1,174 calls about human ingestion of poinsettias and 227 calls about animal ingestion in 2008. No deaths or major medical outcomes were experienced in any of those cases. Likewise, poison control centers received 132 calls about human ingestion of mistletoe, none of which resulted in a serious outcome.

"Treating a poinsettia exposure is a glass of milk for the child and a tincture of reassurance for the parent," said Dr. Ed Krenzelok, managing director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center.

Although anything ingested in excess can be hazardous, Krenzelok noted, minimal ingestion of poinsettias or mistletoe is unlikely to cause anything more than discomfort.

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