Mushroom warning for children

10 April 2014

With wild mushrooms predicted to start growing in large numbers over the coming weeks, SA Health is reminding parents about the dangers of children eating unidentified fungi.

Professor Paddy Phillips, Chief Medical Officer, SA Health, said there were 105 calls to the Poisons Information Centre (PIC) during 2013 from worried parents after their children had eaten or come into contact with wild mushrooms.

“Mushrooms bought from a supermarket or store are a safe and nutritious part of a healthy diet,” Professor Phillips said.

“However there are a number of species of mushroom that, while they may look edible, can contain a range of toxins and are poisonous to eat.

“Usually around this time of year we begin to see more and more mushrooms growing in backyards and playgrounds across South Australia, particularly in the Adelaide Hills.

“Young children may be tempted to eat mushrooms and plants they find in the backyard so it’s a good idea for parents to discourage this behaviour, just in case.

“There is no reliable way to determine if a mushroom is edible unless you are an expert – so if you are unsure, don’t eat it.

“Already this year we have had 14 calls to the PIC from parents asking for advice after their children have swallowed mushrooms and this number is expected to increase over the coming months.

“Eating a poisonous mushroom can cause severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Some species can also cause liver damage and kidney failure.

“If you suspect your child has eaten a wild mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to occur, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 and they will advise if it is necessary to see medical attention.

“If symptoms have developed go to your nearest emergency department or medical clinic immediately.

“You should also try to take one of the mushrooms with you if possible, to help experts identify what species it is to determine the most appropriate treatment.

“If you have wild mushrooms that you can’t identify growing in your garden and are concerned about your children eating them, the best idea is to pick them, bin them and then wash your hands.”

Since 2008/09 47 people have been admitted to SA public hospitals for mushroom poisoning, with 30 per cent of these cases occurring in children.

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