(The New York Times:  Published 11/10/2014, Cenicola, Tony, Web)

About 6,000 trips to the emergency room by children under age 6 were connected to the laundry packets in 2012 and 2013, according to a report published in the journal Pediatrics.

Since the introduction of colorful, single-load packets of laundry detergent in 2012 through the end of 2013, more than 17,000 children under age 6 ate or inhaled the contents or squirted concentrated liquid from a packet into their eyes, researchers reported Monday.  Critics contend that some brightly colored packets too closely resemble candy or a teething toy. Two years ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested the packets “might represent an emerging public health concern.”  “These 17,000 children we found amounts to one child every hour being exposed to one of these laundry pod products,” said Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, a study author and the medical director of the poison center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “That’s a very different order of magnitude than other hazards.”

Most of the cases occurred among children aged 1 or 2, and nearly 80 percent involved ingestion of the contents of a packet. Two deaths of children have been confirmed, one in Florida and another in New Jersey.  Most commonly, children vomited, became lethargic, irritated their eyes, coughed or choked, the researchers found. About 6,000 were seen in emergency rooms. About 750 were hospitalized, and half required intensive care. The laundry packets tend to burst in a child’s mouth, and the concentrated contents can be swallowed all at once.

In recent years, federal agencies, poison centers, Consumer Reports and manufacturers have warned parents to keep packets out of children’s reach and sight.  Dr. Fred M. Henretig, an emergency medicine doctor and senior toxicologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the products should have “true child-resistant packaging.”  “The most important factor in decreasing bad outcomes for kids is to decrease the toxicity of the product itself, or decrease the ability for it to get into the hands or mouths of young children,” he said, adding, “It’s not about bad parenting.” Dr. Casavant and his colleagues called for better product packaging and labeling, public education and an industrywide product safety standard.

The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of children and serve victims and their families in Reading, Berks County, PA, Pottsville, Schuylkill County, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central PA.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire.

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