The death of a Florida child who fell ill after eating a laundry detergent pod could be the first fatality linked to the consumer product.
The death of a Florida infant who ate a packet of laundry detergent is raising fresh concerns about the potential danger to children posed by the increasingly popular consumer product.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers says it has received reports in 2013 of more than 5,700 kids age 5 and younger who have been sickened by accidentally ingesting single-load laundry packets, also commonly known as detergent pods. In 2012, there were 6,231 reported cases.
A 7-month-old boy died at a Kissimmee, Fla., women's shelter last week after eating a detergent pod. If confirmed by tests, his would be the first death in the United States linked to detergent packets.
The District 9 Medical Examiner’s Office, which serves Orange and Osceola Counties, said Thursday an autopsy has been conducted on Michael Williams, but investigators are awaiting further test results before confirming a cause of death.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the infant was with his mother at the shelter on Friday afternoon. When the mother stepped away, the child ate a packet of laundry detergent that was inside a laundry basket on the bed where he was sleeping.
The child was coughing when emergency responders arrived but died later at Osceola Regional Medical Center, according to media reports.
"The death of little Michael is a tragedy. It reminds all of us as parents the dangers of leaving household cleaning supplies around our little ones," Florida Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said in a statement, reported by local media.
LOOKS LIKE CANDY?
The American Association of Poison Control Centers, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have all warned about the health hazards posed by the colorful detergent pods, which children can mistake for candy. Laundry detergent pods were introduced in the U.S. market in 2010.
"A product intended to make your clothes clean and bright should not lead to a parent having to call the poison help line because their child is in distress,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in March.
"Parents and caregivers should be particularly aware that young children might be drawn to laundry detergent pods because of their candy-like appearance, and that exposure to laundry detergent from pods has been associated with more severe adverse health effects," the CDC said in a report in October.
The association of poison centers also issued an alert, saying laundry detergent packets should be locked up and kept out of reach of children.
Last month, Procter & Gamble announced it was changing the packaging of its Tide Pods detergent pouches, ditching the transparent containers in favor of opaque ones.
The AAPPC applauded the move and urged manufacturers of similar products to do the same.
"The Procter & Gamble product had been sold in clear packages in which the colorful packets were easily visible to children. Making the packaging opaque hopefully will help reduce the temptation of children to get into the product," the association said.
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