April 28, 2016
Detergent pods can be a convenient way to do the laundry or wash the dishes, but take care to keep them away from children.
A study published this month in Pediatrics has found that the number of calls to Poison Control Centers for young children being exposed to laundry detergent packets increased by 17 percent from 2013 to 2014, and the number of calls about dishwasher detergent packets went up 14 percent.
Poison control centers across the nation field more than 60,000 calls about children under age 6 who had been exposed to laundry or dishwasher detergents in 2013 and 2014, the study found. Researchers from Columbus, Ohio, and Seattle, Washington, looked at both detergents bottled traditionally and those in dissolvable packets or pods.
Related story: The 12-step checklist to childproofing your home
Thankfully, serious complications were extremely rare, with only two deaths recorded in the entire nation during the study period. The usual effect, if there was any effect, was vomiting, coughing or choking.
"A young child will see something brightly colored like that, be attracted to it, want to explore it and the first place they put it is their mouth,” said Amy Morgan, manager of the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program at Penn State Children's Hospital, which was not involved in the study.
"The packets are water soluble, so as soon as they hit saliva, they start to dissolve and all of that detergent either gets digested into their stomachs or is aspirated into their lungs," she said in Penn State's 'Medical Minute' health feature.
Morgan recommended that parents write down the Poison Help Line number: 1-800-222-1222.
Toddlers are the kids who are most likely to get in trouble from trying to eat a detergent pod. The majority of kids exposed to detergent in the U.S. were less than 3 years old, and the average age was 1.7 years.