Saying that children love candy is probably among the most obvious understatements, but young curiosity, fascination and that affection for sweets can often lead to avoidable dangers in the house. Yesterday, we examined several children’s product recalls that were announced because of manufacturing and production defects that could have been avoided by the companies that created and sold them. However, there are also common household items that are not defective and still pose serious threats to your young children.
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and two other poison control centers, as many as 864 children ages 5 and under have become sick and required medical attention this year after ingesting popular laundry detergent pods. Why are they eating these small, colorful packets of soap? Because they look a lot like candy.
Earlier this year, the American Association of Poison Control Centers issued an alert after the 57 poison centers in the U.S. revealed that between January 1 and August 31, 2,950 children were exposed to these detergent packets, whether by ingestion or general contact. Either way, whether swallowed, inhaled, or making contact with the skin or eyes, children were needlessly hospitalized because of a combination of their parents’ failure to store the detergents out of reach and the fact that the colors and design made them desirable.
The CDC released its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report today, and in it two case reports were examined, one from North Carolina and the other in Pennsylvania. In the North Carolina case, two young children under 20 months old received hospital treatment after they ingested the detergent in separate occurrences. In both cases, the children suffered from severe vomiting and respiratory problems, and one of the children even experienced seizures. In Pennsylvania, two children under 17 months old both experienced similar physical responses after ingesting the detergent and they also required hospitalization. The consensus from these brief reports is that the symptoms of ingestion can seem relatively harmless at first, appearing as drooling and mild vomiting. However, if not immediately treated, it can result in severe physical illnesses and even death.
The most significant finding in the MMWR, as reported by NPR, is that there is a considerable difference in the physiological response between children who ingested the detergent pods and those who had previously been treated for ingesting or having contact with standard powder or liquid detergents. Children who became ill from the latter showed symptoms like coughing and choking, while the children who became ill from pods required serious medical attention.
The AAPCC urges parents to keep the detergent products locked up and stored high out of reach of children, as this is the best way of avoiding any accidents.