Surveillance of paediatric exposures to liquid laundry detergent pods in Italy

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ObjectiveTo analyse paediatric exposures to pod and traditional laundry detergents in Italy and changes in exposure trends.MethodsAnalyses of a series of patients aged <5 years and exposed to laundry detergents between September 2010 and June 2015, identified by the National Poison Control in Milan.ResultsIn comparison with patients exposed to traditional laundry detergents (n=1150), a higher proportion of those exposed to pods (n=1649) were managed in hospital (68% vs 42%), had clinical effects (75% vs 22%) and moderate/high severity outcomes (13% vs <1%). Exposure rates were stable over time for traditional detergents (average 0.65 cases/day), but an abrupt decline in major company pods was seen in December 2012, 4 months after the introduction of opaque outer packaging (from 1.03 to 0.36 cases/day and from 1.88 to 0.86 cases/million units sold). The odds of clinical effects was higher for exposure to pods than for traditional detergents (OR=10.8; 95% CI 9.0 to 12.9). Among patients exposed to pods, the odds of moderate/high severity outcomes was four times higher for children aged <1 years than for the other age groups (OR=3.9; 95% CI 2.2 to 7.0). Ten children exposed to laundry detergent pods had high severity outcomes while no children exposed to traditional laundry detergents developed high severity effects.ConclusionsThe study confirms that exposure to laundry detergent pods is more dangerous than exposure to traditional detergents. In Italy, 4 months after the introduction of opaque outer packaging by a major company, product-specific exposure rates decreased sharply, suggesting that reducing visibility of laundry detergent pods may be an effective preventive measure. Further efforts are needed to improve safety.

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