PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They look like ribbon candy, but they are far from it.

Ten children in our area have eaten swirly, brightly-colored laundry detergent packs. This has led to calls to the Poison Control Center.

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“‘My child just got into this soap pod that I just purchased. Is it a problem?’” Poison Control Center director Ed Krenzelok says about what parents ask when they call.

Biting down on the concentrated liquid-filled packets squirts detergent into the child’s mouth. Children swallow, rather than spit it out. Some of it goes into the stomach. Some can get into the lungs.

“We try to find out if the child’s having any breathing difficulty. Then we explain to the parent that their child is very likely to have one or more episodes of vomiting,” Krenzelok continues.

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Nationwide, 250 cases have been called in to poison control centers. None in our area has been hospitalized, but elsewhere, six children have had severe breathing problems and three are in a coma.

The Poison Control Center follows up with callers an hour later. If a child repeatedly vomits or has trouble breathing, the call center will tell the parents to take the child to the hospital emergency department.

“If adults are attentive, keep them up and out of the reach of children, I don’t anticipate there’d be a problem,” Krenzelok says.

Proctor and Gamble, the maker of Tide, says to make it harder for kids to get at the detergent packets, it’s redesigning its containers to have a double latch lid.

This new packaging will be created in the next couple weeks.

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