Pat Sullivan/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Officials said children are often attracted to the highly-concentrated detergent packets because of how colorful they are.
A 7-month-old Florida boy died after eating a small packet of laundry detergent that his mother accidentally left on a bed where the child was sleeping, authorities said.
The baby’s death could be the first fatality from the highly-concentrated detergent pods after a surge in similar poisonings have been reported since last year, officials said.
The tragedy unfolded after a woman in a battered-women’s shelter placed a couple of All Mighty Pacs Packets in a laundry basket that was next to her sleeping son, Michael Williams, on Aug. 10, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The mother stepped away, but found the boy eating the detergent pods when she returned, cops said.
The frantic mother called for help and shelter staff helped her remove an empty packet from little Michael’s mouth before emergency workers responded a short time later.
The coughing child was rushed to Osceola Regional Medical Center, where he died.
The state’s department of Children and Families confirmed the child ate the detergent packet, but said medical examiners could take a few weeks to confirm the cause of death.
A warning label on a package containing Tide laundry detergent packets highlights the dangers of children eating the highly-concentrated pods.
“The death of little Michael is a tragedy,” Terry Durdaller, an agency spokeswoman, told the Orlando Sentinel in an email. “It reminds all of us as parents the dangers of leaving household cleaning supplies around our little ones.”
The baby’s death comes as the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that there were 5,753 calls in the first seven months of the year for children under the age of 5 that had been exposed to the detergent packets.
The number was just shy of the 6,231 calls reported for all of last year.
“What we’d really like to see is a coating on the products, to keep kids from swallowing (the detergent packets),” Ami Gadhia of the Consumers Union told ABC World News. “Something that makes it taste bitter, so they don’t want to ingest it.”
Last month, Procter & Gamble — the makers of Tide pods — announced they would stop using the clear, candy jar-like containers for the products in an effort to discourage children from trying to eat the product.
The new opaque orange canisters also have a child-resistant, double-latch lid.
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