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Study: Detergent Pods Can Harm Children Who Play With Them

Laundry detergent makers recently introduced miniature packets, but doctors across the country say children are confusing the tiny, brightly colored packets with candy and swallowing them. Pat Sullivan/Associated Press hide caption

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Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

Laundry detergent makers recently introduced miniature packets, but doctors across the country say children are confusing the tiny, brightly colored packets with candy and swallowing them.

Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

It's generally a good idea to have the number of the poison control center handy. That's an even better plan if you have laundry detergent and small children at home.

For decades, poison centers received many calls each year about children swallowing laundry detergent or getting it in their eyes. That problem has gotten worse due to new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets.

A study by the American Association of Poison Control Centers that was published today in Pediatrics found that last year, poison centers received reports of 10,395 exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children ages 5 and younger.

In 2012, calls concerning detergents packets accounted for a smaller percentage of calls.

The pods are brightly colored, and children may want to play with them and put them in their mouths.

In some cases, the effects are more serious than when children have ingested regular laundry detergent.

The study concludes: Some children who have gotten the product in their mouths have had excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe. There have also been reports of corneal abrasions when the detergent gets into a child's eyes.

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The Associated Press reports that some manufacturers already have revised packaging and labels in efforts to make the detergent packets or pods safer for children.

The study found calls dipped slightly after some of those changes were made.

Poison control centers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission remind parents not to let children handle the pods, and to store the packets so that children can't see them or reach them.