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Planta Med. 2012 Mar;78(5):401-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1298253. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Plant exposures reported to the Poisons Information Centre Erfurt from 2001-2010.

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Poisons Information Centre-PIC, Erfurt, Germany.


At the moment, no recent study about plant exposures in Germany and in the federal states the Poisons Information Centre (PIC) Erfurt is serving is available. To get new information about important characteristics of plant exposures like the development of frequency, plants, age groups involved, circumstances of exposure, and symptom severity, we conducted a retrospective study including all human plant exposures reported to the PIC Erfurt over a 10-year period from the beginning of 2001 to the end of 2010. In total, 13 001 plant exposures were registered. While the absolute number of plant exposures discontinuously increased from 1110 in 2001 to 1467 in 2009, and decreased to 1157 in 2010, their relative frequency to all human exposures fell from 9.2 % in 2001 to 5.9 % in 2010. Age groups: children 87.5 % (toddler 60.0 %); adults 11.3 % (middle-aged adults 5.2 %). Gender: female 39.0 % and male 41.2 %. Circumstances: accidental 91.6 %, unknown 4.6 %, abuse 2.9 %, suicide 0.9 %. Severity of symptoms: none to slight 85.5 %, moderate 1.7 %, unknown 12.7 %, severe 0.1 % (in total 9, one 4-year-old girl, involved plant genera: Aconitum, Arum, Chelidonium, Datura, brugmansia, Dieffenbachia, Ricinus, 2 Taxus), fatal 0.03 % (in total 4, involved plant genera: 2 Aconitum, 2 Taxus). In comparison to all human exposures, the relative frequency of severe symptoms in accidental and intentional plant exposures by abuse was significantly lower but as high by suicide. The significant higher involvement of children resulted mainly in none or mild symptoms. Severe symptoms could mostly be observed in adults in intentional plant exposures or when poisonous plants were mistaken for eatable. Because some plant exposures resulted in severe symptoms and even death, their dangerousness should not be trivialised.

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