Laundry detergent pods could be dangerous for young children, researchers warned Monday, as reports grow of kids under six swallowing the capsules in the United States.
The detergent pods -- on US shelves since 2010 -- are just the right size for a single load of laundry, eliminating the need to measure out a liquid or powder.
More than 17,000 incidents from 2012 and 2013 were reported to US poison control centers of children under six being exposed to the detergent chemicals -- equivalent to one child every hour -- according to the new study.
"Laundry detergent pods are small, colorful, and may look like candy or juice to a young child," said co-author Marcel Casavant, toxicology chief at Nationwide Children's Hospital and medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center.
"It can take just a few seconds for children to grab them, break them open, and swallow the toxic chemicals they contain, or get the chemicals in their eyes."
In one case, the child died, while some 769 children were hospitalized, a rate of more than one a day.
Two-thirds of the cases were among toddlers -- children just one or two years old.
Children who put the capsules in their mouths can quickly swallow a large quantity of concentrated chemicals, the Nationwide Children's Hospital researchers warned.
Nearly half the children, 48 percent, vomited after ingesting the detergent, the study found.
Other effects included coughing or choking, eye pain, drowsiness and pinkeye.
Most of the detergent capsules are sold in clear, easy-to-open containers. One manufacturer last year switched to an opaque package with an additional latch and a warning label, but the study authors said this was not enough.
"It is not clear that any laundry detergent pods currently available are truly child resistant; a national safety standard is needed to make sure that all pod makers adopt safer packaging and labeling," said senior author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
He urged households with young children to use traditional detergent.