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Detergent Packets a Growing Poison Danger to Children

Experts say parents of young children should not have these products in the home

TUESDAY, April 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A growing number of small children are getting their hands and mouths on colorful detergent packets, with serious and sometimes fatal consequences, according to a report published online April 25 in Pediatrics.

Gary Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, and colleagues analyzed data from calls made to U.S. poison control centers in 2013 and 2014 after unintentional exposures to laundry or dishwasher detergent involving children under the age of 6. Among 62,254 calls made to emergency departments for poisoning from any kind of laundry or dishwashing detergent from 2013 to 2014, 17 children were in a coma, six stopped breathing, four had fluid in their lungs and difficulty breathing, and two died.

During those years, the number of poisonings increased for all types of detergents, but it was greatest for laundry detergent packets (17 percent), followed by dishwasher detergent packets (14 percent). Laundry detergent pods, especially those with liquid detergent rather than granules, were the most harmful to children who ingested them, Smith said. Two-year-olds accounted for slightly more than 16 percent of dishwasher detergent poisonings and just over 30 percent of laundry detergent poisonings, the researchers found.

“Over 60 percent of these calls were due to laundry detergent packets,” Smith told HealthDay. “That’s about 30 children a day, or one child about every 45 minutes. Over the two years of the study, poisoning from detergent packets increased 17 percent, and in 2015 there was another 7 percent increase.”

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