Laundry detergent pods are a new product in the US marketplace. This study investigates the epidemiologic characteristics and outcomes of laundry detergent pod exposures among young children in the United States.
Using data from the National Poison Data System, exposures to laundry detergent pods among children younger than 6 years of age during 2012–2013 were investigated.
There were 17 230 children younger than 6 years exposed to laundry detergent pods in 2012–2013. From March 2012 to April 2013, the monthly number of exposures increased by 645.3%, followed by a 25.1% decrease from April to December 2013. Children younger than 3 years accounted for 73.5% of cases. The major route of exposure was ingestion, accounting for 79.7% of cases. Among exposed children, 4.4% were hospitalized and 7.5% experienced a moderate or major medical outcome. A spectrum of clinical effects from minor to serious was seen with ingestion and ocular exposures. There were 102 patients (0.6%) exposed to a detergent pod via ingestion, aspiration, or a combination of routes, including ingestion, who required tracheal intubation. There was 1 confirmed death.
Laundry detergent pods pose a serious poisoning risk to young children. This nationwide study underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent exposure of young children to these products, which may include improvements in product packaging and labeling, development of a voluntary product safety standard, and public education. Product constituent reformulation is another potential strategy to mitigate the severity of clinical effects of laundry detergent pod exposure.