November 10, 2014 — About 700 children were severely poisoned and one child died after eating a laundry detergent pod, according to a study published in Pediatrics.
It is the first study to compile laundry pod poisonings reported to the National Poison Data System. Researchers estimate that about one child per hour eats, inhales, or squirts the highly-concentrated detergent into their eyes.
Between 2012 and 2013, about 17,230 children under the age of 6 were injured by laundry detergent pods. About 80% of those children were exposed by eating the products. Children under 3 accounted for 73.5% of cases. Among exposed children, 4.4% were hospitalized and 7.5% had a moderate or major medical outcome.
The child who died was a 16 month-old boy who bit into a laundry detergent packet. He went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated, but died a few days later.
Common symptoms of detergent poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, irritated eyes (symptom of corneal abrasion), coughing, or choking.
The pods are brightly-colored, sweet-smelling, candy-sized, squishy packets that have a water-soluble membrane. Unlike traditional laundry detergent, the pods contain a highly-concentrated formula that is more likely to cause poisoning. In the past, laundry detergent wasn’t a serious poisoning risk.
Manufacturers have taken steps to reduce the number of poisonings. Costco’s Kirkland brand and Proctor & Gamble’s Tide products are now packaged in an opaque container with warning label and a more child-resistant lid. However, some off-brand or generic products still come in a clear container that looks like a candy jar.
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