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Laundry Pods Pose Danger to Children, Study Says

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Parents may want to reconsider the type of laundry detergent they buy, according to a study by Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Researchers found that between 2012 and 2013, 17, 230 children under the age of 6 were reported to have swallowed, inhaled and been exposed to chemicals in laundry pods. Researchers examined the number of calls to U.S. poison control centers and the number of hospitalizations due to exposure.

Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center, said  they went from receiving zero calls about laundry pods in 2011 to receiving 275 calls in 2013 and 262 calls so far this year.

She said symptoms associated with exposure to laundry pods seem to be more severe than with traditional laundry detergent even though they have the same ingredients. With normal laundry detergent, people experience irritation and a mild upset stomach. Exposure to laundry pods brings on  nausea and vomiting, extreme lethargy and difficulty breathing.

"The question becomes: What else is in there as an inactive ingredient that's causing these symptoms? And it's still under investigation. We don't have that answer," Webb said.

The study reports 48 percent of children vomited after laundry pod exposure, 13 percent coughed or choked, 11 percent had eye pain or irritation, 7 percent felt drowsy or lethargic and another 7 percent had red eye or conjunctivitis.

Webb said children confuse the pods for toys because they look like something they should play with.

"Kids are attracted to these little pods, especially ones that have bright colors. They're very easy to pop. As soon as they put them in their mouth, they pop and the kids are exposed," she said.

Webb recommends that parents keep the household item up and away from children.

"Some of these companies have done a good job about putting warnings on their packaging and have tried to make their packaging more difficult for children to open, but even if they claim to have a child-resistance package, kids can still get into those.  It's not child proof," Webb said.

Researchers recommend that parents with young children use traditional laundry detergent because it's less toxic. They also suggest keeping the number of a local poison control center nearby.

The Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center can be reached at (502) 589-8222 or (800) 222-1222.