Children hospitalised in poisoning scare

EXCLUSIVE Fifteen children have been hospitalised this afternoon following fears they had been poisoned.The children were taken to Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department with suspected laburnum poisoning.

FIFTEEN children have been taken to hospital today following fears they were suffering from a form of poisoning.

The children were taken to Ipswich Hospital's accident and emergency department amid fears they had suffered laburnum poisoning from the tree's seeds.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said groundwork was being carried out at St Pancras Roman Catholic primary school in Stratford Road, Ipswich, which resulted in the children using a part of the school which was nearer to neighbouring properties.

He said one property had an overhanging laburnum tree from which some pods had fallen. Some of the children are understood to have picked up the pods and eaten some of them.

Staff saw this happening and, even though there was no sign of illness, contacted NHS Direct. They were advised to keep an eye on the children and their parents were informed.

One of the parents thought their child had eaten a significant number of the pods, so they took them to the A&E department as a precaution.

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After their arrival at A&E staff suggested all the children should be assessed at the hospital.

The school then contacted all the parents and the children were brought in for check-ups.

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the children's conditions were being assessed late this afternoon.

Ms Rowsell said: “Fifteen children suffering from laburnum poisoning have been brought into the hospital's A&E department.”

At one stage doctors and nurses at the Heath Road hospital were put on major alert status, however Ms Rowsell said the children's conditions were not thought to be life-threatening.

It is thought the children were aged between eight and ten. The incident is believed to have taken place between 1pm and 2pm.

However a spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said paramedics were not sent to the school. The service received a message from the hospital at 4.03pm that ambulances would not be needed.

Laburnum plants are poisonous and can be lethal if consumed in excess. The black seeds within the plant's pods contain an alkaloid poison. The seeds have a bitter taste but they are often appealing to children in appearance rather than taste.

Symptoms can include intense sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing at the mouth and unequally dilated pupils.

Cases of poisoning are usually dealt with by treating various symptoms rather than giving an antidote.

Poisoning is said to be relatively rare nowadays as most people are aware of the risks involved in cultivating the trees.

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