WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Colorful and tempting, those single-wash packets of laundry detergent can be poisonous for toddlers who mistake them for candy, researchers warn.
Doctors at a children's hospital in Great Britain reported seeing five such cases of detergent poisoning among children under age 2 over the past 18 months. Each of the children suffered serious chemical burns to the esophagus.
Experts in the United States say the products pose a similar threat to American children.
Several of the children in the British report had airway swelling bad enough that they needed a breathing tube (intubation), and several were admitted to the intensive care unit and one needed additional surgery to remove extensive scar tissue, according to Dr. Lyndsay Fraser, an ear, nose and throat doctor at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
"We've had an increasing number of cases over the last 18 months in which children have bitten into and swallowed liquid detergent," Fraser said. "The color and texture is very, very appealing to children."
The chemicals in laundry packets are highly alkaline, which can quickly damage soft tissues, Fraser explained.
The problem appears to be growing. In Great Britain, the National Poisoning Information Service received 647 telephone inquiries about laundry detergent poisoning; while the topic was searched on TOXBASE, a toxicology database for health professionals, nearly 4,000 times. Those figures make laundry detergent "the most common household product to be accidentally ingested," according to the doctors.
In the United States, nearly 2,200 children age 5 and under either swallowed or got the detergent from laundry packets into their eyes between Jan. 1 and July 31, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
The British report is published in the Sept. 5 issue of t
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