The ingestion of a potentially poisonous substance by a young child is a common event, with the American Association of Poison Control Centers reporting approximately 1.2 million such events in the United States in 2001. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long concerned itself with this issue and has made poison prevention an integral component of its injury prevention initiatives. A key AAP recommendation has been to keep a 1-oz bottle of syrup of ipecac in the home to be used only on the advice of a physician or poison control center. Recently, there has been interest regarding activated charcoal in the home as a poison treatment strategy. After reviewing the evidence, the AAP believes that ipecac should no longer be used routinely as a home treatment strategy, that existing ipecac in the home should be disposed of safely, and that it is premature to recommend the administration of activated charcoal in the home. The first action for a caregiver of a child who may have ingested a toxic substance is to consult with the local poison control center.

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