Laundry detergent packets making children sick

Health officials are urging extra caution after at least ten reports of Iowa children becoming ill from putting laundry detergent packets in their mouths.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers says parents need to be vigilant about keeping highly-concentrated single-use packets of laundry detergent away from children.

Poison control centers across the country are urging extra caution after seeing an increase in reports of children swallowing the small packets of laundry detergent.

“Some young children and toddlers who swallow these small packets have become very ill and have required hospitalization. Other children have gotten the product in their eyes, resulting in significant eye irritation. Some children have been exposed when the product burst after putting it into their mouths,” said a spokesperson for the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

In addition to vomiting, children can develop trouble breathing when they bite into the packets and breathe the detergent into their lungs.

While other detergents might cause mild stomach upset, the concentrated packets seem to bring on more serious symptoms in children who put them in their mouths or bite them.

In Iowa, ten exposure calls have been received since April 1, 2012.  Five of those children needed hospital care.  The children ranged from eight months to four years of age. 

Illinois Poison Control officials are also warning parents of the potential dangers to children handling or ingesting single-use laundry detergent packets. 

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends the following steps:

  • Always keep detergents locked up and out of the reach of children.
  • Follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.
  • In Iowa or Illinois, if you think a child has been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, call Poison Control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
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