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Latest Poisoning Risk for Children

from The New York Times

When my youngest sister was about 4 years old, she climbed up on a chair…then onto the kitchen counter…then stood on a wooden box to reach the highest shelf inside a cupboard. That’s where she found what she thought was candy. It was, in fact, a bottle of orange-flavored “baby aspirin.” After a trip to the hospital to have her stomach pumped, she was fine, but that’s when my mother decided to install a lock on the cabinet.

Baby aspirin no longer exists, but a new candy-colored threat is posing a health risk for kids.

According to an article in The New York Times published in late June 2012, children are being drawn to a new type of detergent packet. They are beautifully colored and small enough to fit in a child’s palm–easily mistaken for candy.

The products were introduced in the United States earlier this year. By late May 2012, poison control centers reported about 250 cases of accidental injury nationwide. By the end of June, that number had jumped to more than 1200 childhood poisonings.

Fortunately, no children have died, but at least 11 children became sick enough to require them to be put on ventilators, and 10 have been intubated. Eye injuries are also a risk, when the detergent quirts out from the packet.

According to The New York Times:

Poison experts are not sure why so many cases have been so severe. Compared with traditional powder and liquid detergent, the newer detergent packets and pods seem far more toxic. Children who have bitten into them have suffered severe nausea and vomiting, respiratory distress and metabolic abnormalities.

“The regular detergents that have been around forever don’t appear to cause the same problems, and we don’t know why,” Dr. Ruck said. “We don’t know yet what’s different about them. They’ve only been on the market a short period of time.”

Experts recommend that the detergent pods be kept in a high, locked cabinet. Just storing them on top of the washing machine or dryer isn’t enough, because kids are crafty climbers. If there is a way to get to the object of their desires, children will find it. Take the example of my baby sister–just a few weeks after her visit to the hospital, she tried to get at the baby aspirin again. By then, my mother had moved it to a more secure location, but little kids are drawn powerfully to the siren call of sweets…even when they are toxic.

To read the full article in The New York Times, click here:  Detergent Pods Pose Poisoning Risk

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