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Your Toddler

Detergent Pods Causing Severe Eye-Damage to Kids

1:45

Warnings have been out for a while on the dangers of small children getting their hands on laundry detergent pods that often look like packets of candy. The main threat has been poisoning, but another problem has surfaced; vision threatening burns, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and looked at eye injuries caused by chemical burns or conjunctivitis among 3 to 4 year olds between 2010 and 2015.

They found that more than 1,200 preschoolers in the United States suffered eye burns from these single-use detergent pods. In 2012, only 12 such burns were reported. By 2015, that number was almost 500.

"These pods look like toys, they look like candy, and kids are finding them, playing with them, puncturing them, and the chemicals inside the pods are getting into their eyes," said lead researcher Dr. R. Sterling Haring, from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

The injuries often occur when children are playing with the pods and they break, squirting liquid into their eyes. Eye burns can also happen when the soap gets on children’s hands and they touch their eyes, Haring said.

"Laundry detergent pods are playing a large and growing role in chemical eye burns among small children," he said.

As a proportion of all chemical burns to the eye among kids, burns from these liquid laundry pods rose from less than 1 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2015, Haring said.

"I am expecting the number of burns in 2016 to be higher than 2015. These numbers have grown every year," he said.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), an industry trade group, has voluntarily introduced improved safety standards for many of these products. New guidelines call for pods that can withstand squeezing pressure from a child. The pods also have a bitter substance on their outer layer to keep children from swallowing their contents. And packaging of the pods is now opaque so the laundry pods can't be seen from outside the packaging, the group said. Many detergent manufacturers have already begun making some of these changes.

One reason the detergent pods can be so dangerous is because the chemicals used are alkaline instead of acidic. Alkaline chemicals are more likely to cause lasting damage than acidic chemicals, Haring said.

The effects of alkaline chemicals can be devastating to a young child’s vision.

"The detergent can burn the cornea, leaving a scar that can impair vision or potentially cause blindness," Haring said. "In the most severe cases, children may need a corneal transplant to restore vision."

If a child has a chemical burn, step one is to rinse the eye with cool water under a faucet for 20 minutes, Haring said.

"Call 911 or take the child to an emergency room, but do it after you rinse the eye for 20 minutes," he said. "That is the first step, and that's the most important step. The longer those chemicals sit on the eye, the higher the likelihood they are going to leave a lasting burn and threaten vision.”

Detergent pods have become very popular because they are convenient, but parents and caretakers sometimes forget that they are packed with dangerous chemicals. These pods need to be kept in an area where small children cannot see them or reach them.

The report was published online in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Story source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20170202/laundry-detergent-pods-linked-to-eye-burn-danger-in-kids#1

 

Your Toddler

More Small Children Poisoned by Detergent Pods

1:45

When detergent pods first became available, many families thought they were a convenient product for dishwashing and laundry. Grab a pod, pop it in and go. However, over time, warnings began to emerge that these colorful products proved too tempting to small children. The bright designs and little round shapes looked a lot like candy to toddlers and young children.

Even though the warnings have taken on a sense of urgency, a growing number of children are getting their hands and mouths on these products, with serious and sometimes fatal repercussions.

Among more than 62,000 calls made to emergency departments for poisoning from any kind of laundry or dishwashing detergent from 2013 to 2014, 17 children were in a coma, six stopped breathing, four had fluid in their lungs and difficulty breathing, and two died.

"Over 60 percent of these calls were due to laundry detergent packets," said lead researcher Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio.

"That's about 30 children a day, or one child about every 45 minutes," he said. "Over the two years of the study, poisoning from detergent packets increased 17 percent, and in 2015 there was another 7 percent increase," Smith said.

Laundry detergent packets are more toxic than other forms of detergent and cause more hospitalizations and serious medical problems, Smith explained.

These packets look attractive to children, who could mistake them for food or candy, he said.

"All they have to do is put them in their mouth and bite down and the packet will burst, and once these toxic chemicals get down their throat the game's over," Smith added.

Given this growing problem, Smith said that parents of children under the age of 6 years should not have these products in the home. "They should use traditional detergents, which are far less toxic," he said.

Smith and colleagues analyzed data from calls made to U.S. poison control centers in 2013 and 2014 after unintentional exposures to laundry or dishwasher detergent involving children under the age of 6.

During those years, the number of poisonings increased for all types of detergents, but it was greatest for laundry detergent packets (17 percent), followed by dishwasher detergent packets (14 percent), the researchers found.

Smith noted that the liquid detergent were the most harmful to children.

Dr. Barbara Pena, research director in the emergency department at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, said companies have to do something to make these products safer.

People need to keep these products out of sight so children can't get into them, she said. "They should be treated just like medicine."

Ideally, parents of young children would not have them in the home, Pena said.

In response to the study, the American Cleaning Institute said Monday that manufacturers are working on a series of packaging and labeling steps that will be part of new international standards intended to reduce accidental exposure to the cleaning products.

The standards will include "secure package closures designed to challenge the typical strength, mental acuity and/or dexterity of a young child," the institute said in a news release.

There will also be first-aid instructions on the products' packages, the group said.

The report was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

It’s good that companies are researching safer packaging for their products, but ultimately, it’s up to the parents and caregivers of small children to make sure that their young child is safe from being poisoned by detergent pods.

Story source: Steve Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160425/more-kids-being-poisoned-by-detergent-pods-study?print=true

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