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Illinois Poison Center warns about continuing danger to children of laundry pods

Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 5:30 a.m. CDT

Despite repeated warnings about the dangers to young children of laundry detergent packets or pods, a new study finds that calls to poison control centers continue to rise dramatically.

The study, published online recently in the journal Pediatrics, found a 17 percent increase in the number of children under age 6 who were exposed to laundry detergent packets (primarily through ingesting the packets) from 2013 to 2014. More than 100 children who were exposed to laundry detergent packets required intubation, and two children died.

Nationally, poison control centers received 22,064 calls related to laundry packet exposures among children younger than 6 years old from January 2013 through December 2014.  During that same time period, the Illinois Poison Center received a total of 1,009 such calls (439 in 2013, and 570 in 2014, an increase of nearly 30 percent from 2013 to 2014).

In 2015, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) and the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital released a detailed analysis of the threat of laundry pods to young children, finding a nearly ten-fold increase in calls to the Poison Center about children’s exposure to the product from 2012 to 2014.

According to the IPC report, the most common symptoms of laundry pod exposure are nausea, vomiting, coughing, choking, drowsiness, and mouth and throat irritation; they can also include difficulty breathing, respiratory burns and even seizures and comas in extreme cases.

If you suspect someone has been exposed to a laundry pod or another potentially harmful substance, call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. For more information, visit http://illinoispoisoncenter.org

The Illinois Poison Center is a nonprofit health service that provides the people of Illinois with comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via a free, confidential 24-hour helpline staffed by specially trained physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

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