Washing detergent pods are being mistook for sweets and eaten by children

A series of poisonings have been reported in the U.S. after children seem to be mistaking the small and colourful washing detergent ‘pods’ for sweets and eating them. According to doctors in America, almost 250 episodes of such occurrences have been reported to poison control centres in the U.S. this year alone. This is still a very small proportion of the overall amount of calls received by the poison control centres. For instance, in 2009 U.S. poison centres received over 4.2 million phone calls. This equates to one every eight seconds. Despite this, doctors are still alarmed by the growing number of instances of it happening.

There has yet to be any death reported, however the resulting symptoms appear to be more serious than a usual poisoning from a typical detergent and they include nausea and breathing difficulties. The American corporation ‘Proctor & Gamble’ released a statement last Friday stating that they would be altering the tub that its ‘Tide’ pods are sold inside, with a new double latched lid being put in place to make it very difficult to be opened by a child. A spokesman for Procter & Gamble defended his company and seemed to suggest that blame lay with the parents. He commented, “The packs themselves are safe, regardless of who manufactures them, provided that they are used for their intended purpose. The risk becomes when they’re left like any other household product within reach of small, inquisitive hands.”

However, this is a serious matter still, as explained by Dr Michael Buehler of the Carolinas Poison Centre when he gave his verdicts on the matter, “ The children get sicker, more severe, and they do this quicker than what we’ve seen with standard liquid laundry exposure. These pods are quite dangerous if ingested, mainly due to the risk of vomiting which can ultimately lead to aspiration of the product into the lungs with resulting difficulty breathing.” Dr Fred Henretig of the Poison Control Centre at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, came into contact with a case whereby a 17 month old boy’s mother had ‘turned her back for the proverbial second’, when her son climbed onto a dresser and put a detergent package inside his mouth. He then vomited, becoming drowsy and then started to cough. After being rushed to hospital, the boy had to be put on a ventilator and was kept in hospital for the next week.

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