Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the short time they’ve been on the market, sales of laundry-detergent pods have soared. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says some children may be mistaking these colorful chemicals for candy.
In Minnesota alone, Poison Control says it’s received 128 calls about the pods since February. And doctors say that number is going up every month.
One-year-old Raniyah Avent is happy and playful now. But that was not the case on August 28 when she swallowed a Purex Ultra Pack laundry pod. Her mother, Angela Avent, made the horrifying discovery.
“She’s lying down…foaming at the mouth, and she just was lifeless,” Avent said.
She rushed her daughter to the hospital.
“They said if I would have waited any amount of time, that I might not have had my baby right now because that’s how bad her throat was closed up,” she said.
They had to put Raniyah on life support.
“My heart drops to the floor,” she said.
Doctors say laundry pods can cause more serious health complications than bottled detergent because they are more concentrated.
Dr. David Blackwell of Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota says the detergent impacts the respiratory system.
“It’s causing wheezing, causing sometimes aspirations that make them sleepy where they don’t want to breathe, or can’t breath on their own,” Blackwell said.
Debbie Anderson of Minnesota Poison Control says cases like Raniyah’s are growing.
“We’re averaging about 13 cases a month. The calls started coming in late spring and they’ve picked up pace as the summer has gone up,” Anderson said.
According to the CDC, cases nationwide are up and most involve children six and younger.
“It looks like candy, little mint, and they’re squishy and they’re fun to play with,” Blackwell said.
“Parents should treat this just like any other chemical, so it should be put out of sight, up high, locked up,” Anderson said.
Little Raniyah was lucky – she pulled through. But her mother’s not taking any risks.
“Now I just use pourable detergent,” Avent said. “I’m grateful that she’s here, you know I’m just really grateful, because you didn’t know if she was going to be here or not.”
There is a push to make safety changes to all types of laundry pods. A New York senator has asked the government to require child-proof lids on the containers they’re packed in.
Parents can contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
Sonya Goins, Producer