Objective Previous studies have reported that children are at risk of severe injuries from exposure to laundry detergent pods. For the first time, this study sought to compare demographic and exposure characteristics and risk among children exposed to pod and non-pod laundry detergents presenting to emergency departments (EDs).
Methods Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) from 2012–2014 were used. All observations with injuries involving laundry detergent (NEISS code 0949) were included in this study. The χ2 test was used for bivariate analysis and logistic regression was used to determine the OR and 95% CI of hospitalisation for pod related versus non-pod laundry detergent exposures.
Results From 2012–2014, there were an estimated 26 062 non-pod and 9814 pod laundry detergent related exposures among those aged 18 years and younger. For pod detergent, children aged 0–5 years had the most injuries. Poisoning (71.3%) was the most common diagnosis for pod detergent while contact dermatitis (72.2%) was most common for non-pod detergent. Hospitalisation occurred in 12.5% of pod detergent cases and just 3.0% of non-pod cases. Compared with non-pod detergent, those exposed to pod detergent were 4 times as likely to be hospitalised (OR 4.02; 95% CI 1.96 to 8.24).
Conclusions A greater effort should be made to appropriately educate the public about the dangers of laundry detergents, specifically pods, so a safe home environment can be established. While new regulations such as childproof containers, opaque packaging, and less appealing and colourful pods could reduce the number of pod related ED visits for children, caregivers should store detergents, along with other chemicals, in a secure location where children cannot easily access them.
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