Laundry Detergent Pods Pose Poisoning Risk to Young Children

A report to appear today in the journal Pediatrics says there has been a significant increase in the number of children suffering adverse effects from exposure to the popular laundry detergent “pods” sold across the country.

The pods have become popular because of their convenience – the user does not have to measure the detergent or fabric softener. But many of the pods are colorful and attractive to young children, who eat the pods or inhale the ingredients when they break the outer shell of the pod. If ingested, the highly concentrated detergent in the pods can cause excessive vomiting, lethargy, and gasping, according to Consumer Reports magazine. In some reported cases, victims stopped breathing and required ventilation support. A summary on the Pediatrics web site reports that “17,230 children younger than 6 years [were] exposed to laundry detergent pods in 2012–2013. From March 2012 to April 2013, the monthly number of exposures increased by 645.3%, followed by a 25.1% decrease from April to December 2013” Fox News reports ( 75 percent of the exposures were in children younger than 3, and almost 80 percent of all exposures were through ingestion. About 7.5 percent of the children experienced a moderate or major adverse outcome. The summary says 102 patients exposed to a detergent pod via ingestion or breathing in the ingredients, required intubation. One child has died, according to Fox.

The article summary says, “Laundry detergent pods pose a serious poisoning risk to young children,” according to Fox. The authors say their study underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent young children from being exposed to these products. The industry must improve packaging and labeling, and develop a voluntary product safety standard and public education about the poisoning danger. The researchers say “product constituent reformulation” is another strategy to mitigate poisoning from laundry detergent pod exposure.


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