Laundry pods poisoning: How it happened in a child-proof home
New national study looks at pediatric exposures to laundry and dishwater detergents
With three boys in a house, ranging from 7 years old to 6 months, the Slaydons knew about the importance of child-proofing their home.
After all, they’d already seen one rough and tumble boy try to wreck the house and put everything in his mouth, so they were ready for the other two. Or so they thought, until one brief, fluke of a moment.
Heidi World Slaydon gave her son Blaze, who was 18 months old at the time, a bath. Heidi placed Blaze down briefly to grab something and when she picked him up, she realized he’d bitten into a laundry detergent pod. The pod box was said to be child-proofed and Heidi placed it so high up that she used a stool to reach it. But somehow, one got on the floor.
Chris Slaydon, Blaze’s father, said his little boy couldn’t have been on the floor more than 15 seconds. But that was enough time to put it in his mouth and bite into it. After calling poison control, the Slaydons were told to monitor their little child. Within a matter of minutes, Blaze was stumbling around like he was drunk. His parents scooped up Blaze and rushed him to the emergency room in Vernon, Texas.
Teddy Bear Transport took Blaze to Cook Children’s. He spent 10 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) after ingesting the laundry detergent pod. He suffered throat burn, infiltrated lungs and a blockage of airway passage, causing him to spend 10 days on a breathing tube.
Doctors treated Blaze with a strong dosage of steroids and a year later Blaze is doing well physically. Although his dad says his son still has the occasional nightmare about the traumatic event. He’s not alone.
“I can’t describe the utter fear we had then,” Chris Slaydon said. “It was terrifying. One, you are so helpless. Two, it’s a child full of innocence. We aren’t talking about an 18 year old. This is an 18 month old. We can’t even talk with him about what’s going on. He’s still in diapers. What happened to Blaze could happen to anyone.”
Single-load laundry detergent pods hit the market in early 2012. In the May 2016 edition, Pediatrics released a comprehensive report on the dangers of "Pediatric Exposures to Laundry and Dishwasher Detergents in the United States."
The study found that of the 117 children who required intubation, 104 were exposed to laundry degergent packets. During the study, 2013-2014, there were two deaths and both were linked to laundry detergent packets.
Because the number of children making contact with these pods, ConsumerReports® announced that it would not include pods on its list of recommended laundry detergents and strongly urged households with children 6 and under not to keep them in the house.
Laundry pod exposures reported to Texas Poison Center Network (Oct. 1, 2014 – July 16, 2015):
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Corwin Warmink, M.D., medical director of the Emergency Department at Cook Children’s, says children under school age are particularly at risk due to the packaging of the pods looking like candy, so ingestion is more likely. Smaller children also are more at risk for severe complications.
The most common effects are vomiting, coughing, choking, fatigue or drowsiness and eye irritation/pain. But it can be much more serious.
“Deaths have occurred and these exposures can be quite severe, causing respiratory depression and failure,” Dr. Warmink said. “The easiest solution is to not keep any such detergent in the house, if you have children … especially under age 6. If you choose to use them, even after all the warnings, keep them in an absolutely child-proof, high cabinet. Although, I’m not sure if there is such a thing”
Just ask the Slaydon family.
“I’m not angry with the company or anything like that,” Chris Slaydon said. “This is a chemical and it’s manufactured to be extremely potent and concentrated. But because of that, it’s a lot more dangerous to kids. You can try to watch your kids 24/7, but it only took seconds for us to take our eyes off of Blaze. People need to be aware this can happen to them. Kids get into stuff. I don’t really blame anyone. I just want parents to be aware that it can happen to them and if you have a little child, don’t keep these products in your house.”
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