Laundry pods may be convenient, but they come at a price.
A study published in Pediatrics on Monday showed that more children were being poisoned by laundry detergent packets every year. The number of calls to U.S. poison control centers jumped 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.
“We found that the majority of poisonings were due to exposure to laundry detergent packets and unfortunately it was precisely those products that were causing the greatest toxicity,” Dr. Gary Smith told CBS News.
Smith, a director at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, was the lead researcher in the study.
The study analyzed more than 62,000 calls made to U.S. poison control centers after children under 6 were exposed to laundry or dishwasher detergent.
There was a rise in all forms of detergent poisoning, but laundry pods saw the greatest increase and they were the most harmful.
Ingestion of laundry packets caused 17 comas, 6 respiratory arrests, 4 cardiac arrests, and 2 deaths.
Children under the age of 3 accounted for a majority of the cases.
“Children at this age will explore their environment by putting things in their mouth and if they simply bite down on one of these things, they’ll burst and those contents will shoot to the back of their throat … and the game is over,” Smith said.
Parents with young children should opt out of using laundry pods for this reason, the study concluded.
“There is no reason why children should be rushed to hospitals in a coma and with swelling down their lungs and we have to intubate them,” Smith said. “There’s no reason why children should die when we have effective, safer alternatives for detergents.”
Smith recommends the detergent pods be kept in a safe place far out of reach of children.
“They should be kept up away and out of sight of children and preferably in a locked cabinet,” Smith said, “because really the time it takes you to pick up a pair of dirty socks and throw them into the laundry is all it’s going to take for a child to put one of these in their mouth, bite down, and have it squirt down their throat.”