Child dies after eating laundry packet

An infant in central Florida died last week
after accidentally eating a packet of
concentrated laundry detergent, the
state's Department of Children and
Families said Thursday.
The death of the 7-month-old boy is
believed to be the first associated with
single-dose liquid detergent packets,
which have been involved in a rash of
unintentional ingestion by babies and
toddlers since becoming widely available
in the U.S. early last year. It heightens the
stakes as consumer-products companies
such as Procter & Gamble Co. try to stop
the problem by modifying their packaging
and warning consumers.
The brand of detergent in the Florida case
was All Mighty Pacs Free & Clear, made by
Sun Products Corp., people familiar with
the matter said. The detergent packets
were colorless.
Kathryn Corbally, Sun Products' director
of corporate affairs, said the company
hadn't been notified directly by
authorities but had heard that its product
was involved. "Our thoughts and prayers
go out to the family of the child who
died," Ms. Corbally said. She said the
company takes safety seriously.
Since the start of this year, poison-control
centers across the country have reported
5,753 cases of children 5 years old and
under being accidentally exposed to
single-dose detergent packets made by
companies including P&G, Henkel AG and
others. That was close to the 6,231 cases
reported for all of last year.
Some poison-center directors have cited
the laundry packets' resemblance to
candy as a factor in some accidents. In
many cases, parents or caregivers left the
detergent packets within reach of their
children, who swallowed the detergent or
got it in their eyes when thin films
encasing the highly concentrated liquid
burst.
Some of the injuries have been serious,
causing symptoms such as vomiting,
lethargy, breathing difficulties and corneal
abrasions. Some children had to be
hospitalized for days and intubated to
help them breathe. Until the Florida
incident, however, none was known to
have died.
The Florida incident was reported earlier
by the Orlando Sentinel. It involved a
baby boy and his mother, who were
staying in a shelter for battered women,
according to the article. The mother had
placed detergent packets inside a laundry
basket on a bed, stepped away and when
she returned, found her son eating the
detergent, the newspaper reported.