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Laundry detergent pods are a fairly new product in U.S. households. The pods may be convenient for adults, but children can be seriously injured or even die if they ingest or otherwise come into contact with the chemicals inside the pods.

According to a study in the December 2014 issue of Pediatrics, “Pediatric Exposure to Laundry Detergent Pods,” (published online Nov. 10), 17,230 children under the age of 6 were exposed to laundry detergent pods from 2012 through 2013.

The most common route of exposure was ingestion (79.7 percent). One- and two-year-olds accounted for approximately two-thirds of cases. Among all children exposed, about half of cases were managed at home, 35 percent were treated and released from a health care facility, and one child died.

Because children may be enticed by the colorful, candy-like appearance of detergent pods, the study authors conclude that a national safety standard is needed to improve product packaging and labeling.

Researchers recommend pediatricians and health care providers educate parents and child caregivers about the dangers of laundry detergent pod exposure, and the importance of safe storage and careful use of these products; households with young children should use traditional laundry detergent instead of the more toxic detergent pods.

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