The Serbian translation of this article is the immediate preceding post.

Health Alert: For My Adopted Serbian Compatriots

In this modern era of globalism, we often cannot know the source of certain things that in the past were taken for granted. Many Serbs believe in the health benefits of apricot kernels, but if these kernels were not sourced from the relatively benign tree in your great-grandmother’s yard, you might encounter serious health risks.

Apricot kernels vary in toxicity depending on variety and size. Some kernels are considered hazardous if consumed at all, in other cases more than 1/2 of a single large kernel can be dangerous to consume for an adult.

I have had translated here the study conclusion of cyanide poisoning in hospitalized children who had consumed apricot kernels, from the National Institute of Health Library. In this new era of globalism, please be careful and raise awareness concerning the dangers of consuming apricot kernels, especially for children.

National Institute of Health Library:


Aim: To report diagnostic, clinical and therapeutic aspects of cyanide intoxication resulting from ingestion of cyanogenic glucoside-containing apricot seeds.

Methods: Thirteen patients admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of Erciyes University between 2005 and 2009 with cyanide intoxication associated with ingestion of apricot seeds were reviewed retrospectively.

Results: Of the 13 patients, four were male. The mean time of onset of symptoms was 60 minutes (range 20 minutes to 3 hours). On admission, all patients underwent gastric lavage and received activated charcoal. In addition to signs of mild poisoning related to cyanide intoxication, there was severe intoxication requiring mechanical ventilation (in four cases), hypotension (in two), coma (in two) and convulsions (in one). Metabolic acidosis (lactic acidosis) was detected in nine patients and these were treated with sodium bicarbonate. Hyperglycaemia occurred in nine patients and blood glucose levels normalised spontaneously in six but three required insulin therapy for 3-6 hours. Six patients received antidote treatment: high-dose hydroxocobalamin in four and two were treated with a cyanide antidote kit in addition to high-dose hydroxocobalamin. One patient required anticonvulsive therapy. All patients recovered and were discharged from the PICU within a mean (SD, range) 3.1 (1.7, 2-6) days.

Conclusion: Cyanide poisoning associated with ingestion of apricot seeds is an important poison in children, many of whom require intensive care.