Tampa Bay area sees increase in laundry pods poisoning cases

Laundry pods look like candy to young children, doctors say.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Klinda Mann couldn’t believe it. She turned her head for a mere second while doing laundry. In that brief moment, her 2-year-old son, Jacquez, popped a laundry detergent pod in his mouth.

The toddler became violently ill and began foaming at the mouth. His mother calls it the shock of a lifetime.

“It looks like candy; kids think it’s candy,” the toddler’s mom tells News Channel 8. “He began throwing up immediately.”

News Channel 8's Melanie Michael talks with Klinda Mann and her family. Mann's son
News Channel 8’s Melanie Michael talks with Klinda Mann and her family. Mann’s son Jacquez became ill after putting a laundry detergent pod in his mouth.

Mann explained to 8 On Your Side that the scariest part of it all was how quickly her son got sick. It happened in an instant. The boy bit into the Gain Detergent pod, ingesting its highly concentrated ingredients.

The mom acted fast and called the Poison Control Center at Tampa General Hospital at (800) 222-1222.

“He wouldn’t eat or drink,” she told News Channel 8. “It was bad.”

Members of the Poison Control Center crisis team are familiar with this ever-increasing scenario. They’ve dealt with 100 additional cases of detergent poisoning this year, despite a warning from Consumer Reports in 2015. The recommendation urged parents with children under the age of six to not purchase pods.

That warning came after a study showed 17,000 cases of children eating the detergent pouches in the last two years. In fact, a heartbreaking case happened in Central Florida back in 2013. A 7-month-old baby boy from Osceola County died after eating a detergent pod.

News Channel 8 asked why these poisoning cases have increased by 20 percent, which the journal Pediatrics reported Monday.

Kids can’t resist the seemingly bite-sized, colorful pods since the pouches bear an uncanny resemblance to candy. That seems to be the problem, maintains Dr. Alfred Aleguas.

Aleguas is longtime director of the Poison Control Center in Hillsborough County and has been busier than ever, taking calls from all over the Tampa Bay area, including the one from Jacquez’s quick-thinking mom. It was the call that saved her son’s life.

“I tried so hard to stay calm so my baby would remain calm. It was nerve-wracking,” Mann said. “They helped save him, talked me through it on the phone.”

Luckily, Jacquez’ story has a happy ending. He recovered quickly – in 24 hours – and is doing well. Dr. Aleguas admits people like using the pods packs, including himself. “I like how easy it is to use them, but if I had children under 5, you have to keep an eye on them, like this mother did,” he said.

“This happens fast, children move fast. The detergent can get in their lungs and kill them,” Aleguas added. “You’ve always got to keep your eyes on them.”

If your child ingests the contents of a pods packet, call the Poison Control Center right away at (800) 222-1222.



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