Nov 11, 2014 03:15 AM EST
While doing the laundry may seem completely innocuous, exposing your children to detergent products contained in laundry detergent pods have posed more risk in U.S children's lives than one would've thought. According to researchers at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio who published their findings in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that from 2012 through 2013, U.S. poison control centers received reports of 17,230 children six years old and below swallowing, inhaling or being exposed to chemicals in laundry detergent pods.
Nearly two-thirds of the cases involved children between the ages of 1 and 2 year olds, and the findings revealed that a total of 769 young children, or an average of one child per day, had to be hospitalized because of laundry pod-related accidents. About 80 percent of all calls involved children swallowing the pods or their liquids.
Dr. Gary Smith, the study's lead author said the results "caught them by surprise".
"I've seen these cases come through the hospital's emergency department" Smith says. "I was aware of the case reports, but I haven't seen anyone pull together the numbers."
Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, study co-author, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, said that both the packaging and the formulations of laundry pods are likely causing these more severe reactions that lead to the children's hospitalizations.
"When a child gets into powders or liquids, they might want to take a taste of it, and get some accidentally on their fingers, and decide to clean their finger by popping it in their mouth. Usually it's a very, very, very small dose. In our experience, a child gets into a pod, gets the full dose, and can't control how much gets into the mouth," Casavant explained.
The colorful packaging is one of the reasons why children may be attracted to the pods which they may see as candy container filled with juice.
"This is an age group that has newfound mobility" Smith says. "They're curious and they don't sense danger."
"The good news is that half of these exposures were trivial. If they swallow it and they swallow enough of it, that's when we get these serious symptoms."
The all-in-one packets or laundry detergent pods were introduced to the U.S. market in 2012 and were designed in a ways that users wouldn't have to measure detergent in a cup.
According to reports, the study found that effects of consuming laundry pods included vomiting (48 percent of cases), coughing and choking (13 percent), eye pain or irritation (11 percent), drowsiness or lethargy (7 percent), mouth pain, burning, difficulty breathing, and windpipe injuries.
"These are severe symptoms that we haven't seen in the past with traditional laundry detergent that we're now seeing with these new pods" Smith say.
"The symptoms are a very broad spectrum. It's not only the amount, but the route of exposure too."
Smith says parents need to recognize the toxicity of these laundry detergent pods and they also need to close the packages and put them away in a locked cabinet.
"We're actually recommending if parents have young children in the home, they should use traditional laundry detergent. Or if they're using laundry detergent pods, they need to be kept out of children's reach, and they need to be locked up."
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