Are Poinsettia Plants Dangerous for Kids?

by on October 26th, 2010
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On a recent visit to see Santa, my husband eyed the poinsettia plants that lined the entrance to Santa’s house nervously. “Hey,” he said, nudging me, “What a great idea. Let’s put poisonous plants all over the place where kids can touch them. Merry Christmas, everyone!”

I nodded nervously because I could remember something about poinsettia plants being bad for pets, but I couldn’t remember if they also dangerous for kids. If so, why were the plants everywhere during the Christmas season? Was this knowledge that we were all missing?

When we came home from the mall, I did a little research and discovered that there is, in fact, some scientific reason to be nervous about the bright red plants that so many of us consider associated with Christmas. Turns out that exposure to the plants can in fact cause a rash if touched or an upset stomach if consumed. (The potential upset stomach is why the plants are considered bad for pets, since most pets will keep eating something that is bad for them even when they should stop.)

But the question is whether or not Santa’s elves were placing all our kids in harm’s way, since touching or eating the plants can result in a reaction. I guess it depends on your point of view…kids could develop a mild rash after touching the leaves but the contact probably won’t result in a severe reaction. Likewise, if kids eat the stems or leaves, vomiting or diarrhea may result.

My kids, especially my two-year-old, are known for touching absolutely everything, everywhere. They can’t walk through a store without having to touch everything in sight. This includes those darn poinsettia plants at Santa’s house, so we made a beeline for the restroom when we were done saying hello to the jolly old elf and washed everyone’s hands well with soap and water. None of the kids developed a rash or an upset stomach, but I decided not to buy any poinsettias for our house this year. Better to be safe than sorry, in my opinion.

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