CDC issues poison alert on candy look-alike detergent capsules

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 29, 2012

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Some young children are swallowing capsules of laundry detergent and becoming critically ill, said a report in the Oct. 19 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Between May 17 and June 17 of 2012, 1,008 cases of exposure to laundry detergent were reported to the nation’s poison control centers. Forty-eight percent involved laundry detergent capsules. A majority of those incidents occurred among children 5 and younger (link).

Exposure largely involved swallowing the product, but there also were cases of children getting the detergent in their eyes or on their skin. Symptoms of exposure to detergent capsules can include coughing or choking, eye irritation, lethargy, profuse vomiting, respiratory distress and seizure-like activity, the report said.

The capsule contains concentrated liquid detergent within a water-soluble membrane that dissolves when in contact with moisture. Children might be attracted to the small, colorful capsules because they resemble candy, the report said.

The capsules first appeared on store shelves in the United States in 2010. On May 17, 2012, the CDC and the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers began tracking reported exposures to the detergent capsules.

The MMWR report encourages physicians to be aware of the dangers of these items. Doctors also should ensure that parents and others know the potential harms of laundry detergent capsules to children.

Physicians should report patient exposure to the capsules and cases of associated illness to their local poison control center by calling 800-222-1222, the report said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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