2017-05-18 / Top News

Cleaning pods pose danger; protect kids from ingestion

Lee Health

Household cleaning products rank in the top five most common exposures to children ages 5 and younger. Ingestion is the most common method of exposure, with more than 11,000 calls made to poison control centers last year to report children who ingested laundry pods.

The rates of poisonings from laundry and dishwasher detergent packets or “pods” are growing, as are serious injuries from exposures to them. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital every 45 minutes a poison control center receives a call about a child who has ingested or otherwise been exposed to a laundry detergent packet. The biggest contributor to hospitalizations and serious medical effects among detergent poisonings are laundry detergent pods.

“They’re packaged in brightly colored, single-use packets. Because of their smooth texture, size, colors and taste, young children often mistake the pods for candy, which makes them irresistible,” says pediatric ear, nose and throat physician Stuart Morgenstein.

Symptoms of laundry pod ingestion range from mild to severe, including vomiting and throat pain. Although death is rare with consumption of the detergent pods, a child can lapse into a coma or can progress to respiratory distress, both of which require intensive care treatment.

The most recent data available from the National Poison Data System reveal that in 2013 and 2014, poisonings in children under 6 years old from laundry detergent pods and dishwasher detergent packets increased 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Dishwasher detergent packets totaled nearly 25 percent of all poisoning cases, and laundry detergent packets made up 35 percent of them. In all, NPDS recorded a total of 62,254 poisonings involving laundry or dishwasher detergent in children under 6.

“Avoidance is the most important element long-term,” Dr. Morgenstein advises. “The pods should be kept closed and sealed, stored up high, out of the reach of children. Also, make sure the telephone number of the poison control center is readily available.” The Poison Help Line number is 800-222-1222. ¦

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