Doctors warn parents to stop buying laundry pods

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(WFLA) — Consumer Reports has announced Thursday morning that it no longer recommends liquid laundry detergent pods after hospitals continue to have high-rates of accidental poisonings in young children, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The organization is strongly urging households with children younger than six-years-old to stop buying them.

Doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital scientifically evaluated the patterns, causes, and effects of laundry pods as a serious poisoning risk among children under the age of six nationally over the course of a two-year study, which took place from 2012-2013. The study focused on children swallowing, inhaling or otherwise being exposed to chemicals in laundry detergent pods. Doctors say they charted 17,000 cases in 2 years. Findings called for new national safety standards and for families with young children to not have these items in the home.

Doctors who conducted the study say children often mistake the the small, brightly-colored laundry pods for candy and bite into them. “Once they do that, they can get into trouble very quickly,” said Marcel Casavant, MD, who collaborated on the study. “The chemicals in these pods are so concentrated that a child can be exposed to a dangerous amount in an instant,” he said.

The hospital says one and 2-year-olds accounted for nearly two-thirds of the poisoning cases. Children who put detergent pods in their mouths risk swallowing a large amount of concentrated chemicals. “The bottom line is, we need a new, voluntary safety standard for these products before any more children get hurt,” said Dr. Gary Smith.

Parents and child caregivers can help children stay safe by following these tips:

  • Parents with young children and child caregivers should use traditional laundry detergent, which is much less toxic than laundry detergent pods.
  • Store laundry detergent pods up, away, and out of sight – in a locked cabinet is best.
  • Close laundry detergent pod packages or containers and put them away immediately after use.
  • Save the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and post it near your home phones.

December 2014 issue of Pediatrics: Pediatric Exposure to Laundry Detergent Pods

Laundry detergent pods pose a serious poisoning risk to young children. This nationwide study underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent exposure of young children to these products, which may include improvements in product packaging and labeling, development of a voluntary product safety standard, and public education. Product constituent reformulation is another potential strategy to mitigate the severity of clinical effects of laundry detergent pod exposure.

American Association of Poison Control Centers: Laundry Detergent Packets

These new laundry packets dissolve in the washing machine. Because they are colorful and squishy, they are attractive to children. They can look like candy or something fun to play with. But some young children who have put these small packets into their mouths and swallowed some of the detergent have become very ill and have been hospitalized. Others have gotten it into their eyes, causing severe irritation.

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