Small child

Mushroom poisoning in a child - first aid


In our country every year 500 to 1000 people are poisoned by mushrooms. Of these, up to 30% are children and young people, who are under 14 years of age (the highest mortality is also recorded in this age group). So what symptoms may suggest that our child is poisoned with mushrooms and what should first aid look like?

What fungi are the most common cause of acute poisoning in children?

Among those who are poisoned by mushrooms, people who ingest dominate chestnut (fungus most often mistaken for morel), fly agaric mushroom (fungus most often mistaken for green goose, Eurasian tuft kite or dove) Of these, the most dangerous is death cap, which is responsible for the highest number of deaths, and liver transplantation is often the only way to treat poisoned people.

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning in a child on the example of a fly agaric

Four main phases of intoxication can be distinguished in people who have ingested the agonist fly agaric:

  • The first latency phase - it covers a period of 6 to 24 hours (average 12 hours) from ingestion of the fungus and is characterized by the complete absence of symptoms reported by the poisoned person. This phase may be shortened in young children and in the case of ingestion of large amounts of fungus.
  • Phase of gastrointestinal disorders - it lasts on average from 12 to 24 hours and is characterized by a very rapid onset of symptoms, severe, diffuse stomach ache, nausea, vomiting and persistent and profuse diarrhea. It can very quickly be associated with significant dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Second latency phase - also referred to as the phase of transient recovery. It lasts from 12 to 24 hours and is characterized by a significant improvement in the patient's clinical condition (this is an apparent improvement, because in fact the markers of organ damage are slowly growing).
  • Hepatic phase - appears on average about 4 days after intoxication and is characterized by symptoms of severe liver damage. These include, but are not limited to, hepatic coma, massive upper gastrointestinal and respiratory tract haemorrhage, jaundice and progressive multiple organ failure (mainly renal failure).

In case of severe poisoning, unless urgent is done liver transplant, the patient dies in multi-organ failure. Symptoms of other intoxications may be similar, although most often they have a much milder course.

Mushroom poisoning in a child - first aid

In case of suspected mushroom poisoning, the most important is attempt to induce vomiting (they should be secured and forwarded to doctors) and how the fastest going to the hospital with your child. The decisive factor is the patient's prognosis time here and therefore, under no circumstances should these activities be delayed.

Regarding further management of the poisoned small patient, doctors will carry out activities aimed at removing toxins from the body (gastric lavage), reducing their absorption (activated carbon) and compensating for metabolic and water-electrolyte disorders. In extreme cases it will be indicated urgent liver transplant which may be the only way to save the child (in some cases a family transplant is possible - only a fragment of the donor's liver is transplanted).

Mushroom poisoning in children - prevention

Mushrooms are not a rich source of vitamins, minerals or nutrients. Hence, the best idea is refraining from giving them to children. What's more, for your own safety, you should avoid eating mushrooms from people for whom we are not 100% sure that they have extensive experience in mushroom growing.

At this point it is worth noting that the widespread belief that onions and silver cutlery turn black in contact with poisonous mushrooms is incorrect and there is no coverage in reality. What's more, it should also be remembered that cooking, drying or other processing of mushrooms in most cases does not neutralize the toxins contained in them.

In summary, mushrooms are a tasty ingredient in many dishes, but for the safety of your children, it's worth refraining from using them in your kitchen. The exception is mushrooms from proven and experienced suppliers.

Bibliography:Pediatrics by Wanda KawalecInternal Szczeklik 2018/19