In the News
As single-use laundry detergent pods’ popularity grows, so does the need to protect young children from chemical ocular burns, which can occur if pods burst or leak when handled. While previous research has focused mainly on the risks of poisoning in children posed by ingesting the attractively colored but toxic laundry detergent pods (see In the News, February 2015), a recent study analyzed whether these pods may be increasingly responsible for eye injuries among children of preschool age. To answer this question, researchers examined data on ED visits for chemical ocular burns among children three to four years of age from 2010 through 2015. The data came from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
The authors found that the number of eye injuries associated with laundry detergent pods jumped from 12 in 2012 to 480 in 2015. In 2012, pods accounted for just 0.8% of all chemical ocular injuries in the three-to-four-year-old population, soaring to 26% in 2015. Boys and girls were equally at risk. Since almost all of these chemical eye burns occurred at home, pediatricians, pediatric nurses, and other health care providers can help prevent these painful injuries by counseling parents about the dangers posed by laundry pods and urging safe, secure storage. School nurses can also educate parents and youngsters to treat detergent pods cautiously.
The study's limitations include the fact that the NEISS database records only visits to the ED, excluding children's visits to urgent care centers or other physicians. The NEISS does not provide follow-up data, so long-term outcomes for these patients are not known.—Lucy Wang Halpern
Haring RS, et al JAMA Ophthalmol 2017 135 3 283–4