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Laundry Detergent Pod Ingestions: A Case Series and Discussion of Recent Literature

Beuhler, Michael C. MD*; Gala, Payal K. MD; Wolfe, Heather A. MD; Meaney, Peter A. MD, MPH‡§; Henretig, Fred M. MD§∥

Pediatric Emergency Care:
doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318294f3db
Illustrative Cases
Abstract

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to present and explore the clinical presentation of the increasingly common pediatric exposure to the widely available single-use laundry packets or “laundry pods.”

Methods: This is a case report of 4 pediatric patients with significant toxicity due to laundry pod detergent exposure and a review of the available literature including abstract-only publications.

Results: An unexpectedly severe clinical pattern was noted; 3 of the 4 children required intubation for management, airway injury was noted in 1 of them, and 2 of them had hospital courses of at least 1 week. The literature suggests that laundry pod exposures are associated with increased morbidity compared to traditional laundry detergent exposures. To date, no specific contaminant or component has been identified as being responsible for the injury, although some evidence points to the surfactant component.

Conclusions: A different approach to the triage and management of pediatric exposures to laundry detergent pod ingestions is required compared with nonpod ingestions. Although the exact cause is not known, practitioners should be vigilant for rapid onset of neurological impairment and inability to protect the airway in addition to its caustic effects.

Author Information

From the *Carolinas Poison Center, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC; Departments of †Pediatrics and ‡Anesthesia and Critical Care, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; §Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; and ∥Division of Emergency Medicine, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Michael C. Beuhler, MD, Carolinas Poison Center, 4400 Golf Acres Dr, Suite B-2, Charlotte, NC 28208 (e-mail: michael.beuhler@carolinashealthcare.org).

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.