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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 18

of 'Potentially toxic plant ingestions in children: Clinical manifestations and evaluation'

Philodendron/dieffenbachia ingestions: are they a problem?
Mrvos R, Dean BS, Krenzelok EP
J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1991;29(4):485.
Ingestions involving the philodendron/dieffenbachia members of the Arum family are allegedly associated with the development of intense irritation of mucous membranes, resulting in swelling of the tongue, lips and palate. Although numerous literature citations promote their toxicity, there are few case reports which substantiate a cause-effect relationship between ingestion and resultant symptomatology. To assess the toxic manifestations associated with the ingestion of these plants, a retrospective review of such cases reported to a Regional Poison Information Center was performed. 188 cases were identified and the integrity of the leaf had been broken in all cases. Philodendrons accounted for 67.5% and dieffenbachias for 32.5% of the cases. 72.8% involved children aged 4-12 months. Only 2.1% (4) of the patients were symptomatic (dieffenbachia-3; philodendron-1). In all cases, the symptoms occurred within 5 minutes of the exposure and were of short duration and the outcome was classified as minor. In this 24 month senses of 188 exposures, severe oral complications and the delayed development of symptoms were not observed.
Pittsburgh Poison Center, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2583.