Household Hazard: Kids Swallowing Laundry Detergent Capsules

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Pat Sullivan / AP

Kids will put just about anything in their mouths, including potentially toxic single-dose laundry detergent gel packs — the small, soft and colorful capsules that tend to draw children’s interest.

Concerned doctors in the U.K. are now calling for improved safety warnings and childproof packaging of liquid laundry and dishwasher detergent capsules after seeing a rise in the number of young children needing hospital care after swallowing or being exposed to them.

In a recent letter published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, U.K. doctors reported a cluster of cases in which five kids under age 2 swallowed the small capsules over the previous 18 months. All the children were treated in a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, and all recovered, but four children required several days of intubation to treat swelling and help them breathe, and one child needed surgery.

Calls to the national poisoning information hotline in the U.K. reached 647 in the past year.

(MORE: Top 5 Dangerous Objects Kids Like to Swallow)

The authors say that the detergent capsules contain strong alkaline cleaning agents that can destroy tissue and cause inflammation and swelling if swallowed. The small packets can also quickly block throats and airways causing choking, and if the tissues of the esophagus erode from exposure to the chemicals, it can be fatal.

Treatment can not only be drastic, but it also requires the use of intensive-care resources and may have a “catastrophic impact on the child and family,” the authors write. “We feel that the increasing trend in liquid detergent capsule ingestion poses a significant public health issue,” they write.

The capsules are continuing to pose a problem for American kids as well. U.S. poison control hotlines have received 2,950 calls about young kids’ exposure to the gel packets this year — 734 calls in August alone — according to CNN. The cases all involved children under age 5; no deaths have been reported.

As New York City Health Department spokeswoman Chanel Caraway told CNN: “It is something new that we’re seeing. … These are basically brand new to the market and once they started hitting the market is when we started seeing (reports of exposures).”

(MORE: 10 Dangerous Items You Might Have in Your Home)

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends [PDF] the following steps for parents to protect their youngsters:

  • Always keep detergents locked up and out of the reach of children
  • Follow the specific disposal instructions on the label
  • If you think a child has been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, call your local poison center at 800-222-1222 immediately
12 comments
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oregongranny
oregongranny

my days their was no child proof, we put things locked away. when our children were young.  Have they not heard of child locks, new to me but I used them when my grandchildren visit.  Some adults lack common sense.    grandma

yourstrulysieweMD
yourstrulysieweMD

It is bizarre what line of argumentation some of us follow. Regulating products has nothing to do with being a liberal. Through regulalions like seat belts for cars, helmets for motorbikes, warning signs on different kinds of toxic chemicals, baby safe latches for doors and bottles, we and i mean all of us from different works of lives and backgrounds and races are living safer than 20years, 50 years and one hundred years ago!.

I would dare to call myself a loving and caring father of two toddlers. I don't always know what toddlers are up to. I dare to call myself very educated. Yet i cannot protect my children from all harms. I don't want to even try. Because that will make us the overprotective, overexcited parent.

But it is no shame to say that...i could forget to place the detergent etc. in it's safe place because i had to attend to a crying child or the pot or phone. Even ift i realised my shortcoming two minutes later,.. thats enough time for a child to get in contact with anything. That doesn't make me noncaring or whacko and sure enough doesn't disqualify me for good parenting.

Our lives are comfortable enough and if you RUTH RAYNOR and your likes feel overwhelmed by certain tasks don't blame the world.

Find a solution. Use a knife etc...

Let's live and let live

Cheers

Distantsmoke
Distantsmoke

I'm sure Liberal's will once again try to defy natural selection by outlawing laundry pods.  I like laundry pods.  They make my life easier.  And frankly, wait for the media backlash, I am sick and tired of having to adjust my life for every stupid act by every stupid person in America.  Let the stupids learn a lesson for a change. 

Here, I'll say it for everyone, "Don't eat laundry pods.  They aren't food no matter how much you want them to be or how little your stupid parents feed you.  Go to school and get free food like everyone else."

I do not believe I am compassionless.  But I am getting tired of carrying the stupids who can't even figure out how to put things like laundry pods, rat poison, liquor,household chemicals and power tools out of the reach of children who are too young or too stupid to not recognize them as food or toys.

The first 12 (and free free free with free free free food) years of school apparently need to concentrate on basic (previously common) good sense. 

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

 I call it sensibility, but I don't reserve it's lack to liberals.

Ruth Raynor
Ruth Raynor

Like many people with joint problems in their hands, I'm sick to death of "childproof" packaging making my life harder. If you're dumb enough to put poisonous chemicals where your kids can easily reach them, maybe it's better they left the gene pool.

Leah
Leah

Thank you Ruth. I said the same thing about the college student who went to a ball game, jumped off the escalator and died. To the horror of people who overheard my conversation. Stupid breeds stupid- and we have quite enough of that already.

SynicInSF
SynicInSF

Smart people have smart kids, etc. Anytime a kid is quiet, you need to check. If you take every precaution your odds are less but not zero.

DefeatObama.com
DefeatObama.com

I'm really confused as to what sort of moron leaves this wear a child can get out it. 

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Answer: Republicans

Distantsmoke
Distantsmoke

Unlikely.  Republicans are the ones who believe in personal responsibility.  But it is common for Liberals to paint Republicans with an evil uncaring brush.  Much easier than to admit there are smart Republicans just as there are (OMG) smart Liberals.  It's just Liberals who want to outlaw everything so no one has to think about anything.  Like banning toys from Happy Meals.  Much easier to mind a mindless herd. 

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

 They may BELIEVE in personal responsibility, but like most church-going believers, they only give it lip service. 

Besides, every poll ever done indicates that the average liberal is more intelligent than the average conservative (and independents are the most intelligent of all voters on average).  There ARE smart conservatives.  They control the right-wing.  There are smart liberals.  They control the left wing.  Neither constitute a majority and require the mindless (the conservative voter) and the naive (the liberal voter) to keep them in power.

In this election, however, they have to appeal to us in the middle to GET into power.  We are neither mindless or naive.  We don't want anything to do with the extremism each side represents and it's funnier than hell to watch them try to entice us with the same BS they try on their loyal followers.

We, in the middle, don't have any choices.  We're stuck with the devils on the right and the deep blue sea on the left.  It would be nice to have a choice for a change.