Miniature laundry detergent packets arrived on store shelves in recent months as an alternative to bulky bottles and messy spills.
But doctors across the country say children are confusing the tiny, brightly colored packets with candy and swallowing them. Nearly 250 cases have been reported this year to poison control centers. Though they remain a tiny fraction of the thousands of poisoning calls received every year, doctors are concerned. The symptoms they see in connection with ingesting the packets – such as nausea and breathing problems – are more severe than typical detergent poisoning. No deaths have been reported.
"We're not quite sure why it's happening," said Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, a Dallas toxicologist and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "But we've clearly had some kids who have become much more ill. We look at these pods as being clearly more dangerous than the standard detergent."