Doctors at the area’s children’s hospital are warning parents about the dangers of dishwasher and washing machine liquitabs, after five kids suffered serious injuries by biting into them.
Young children across Greater Glasgow have sustained near fatal burns after mistaking the brightly coloured tabs for jelly sweets. The cleaning agents cause immediate chemical burns to the children, which can rapidly close their airways.
Dr Lyndsay Fraser, from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, said: “It really is only good fortune that we haven’t seen a death resulting from this type of injury. These liquid capsules are dangerous chemicals [but] children are biting into the tablets, presumably because they think they are sweets as they have the same soft texture and bright colouring.”
Already this year, five children have been rushed to Yorkhill for potentially life-saving emergency treatment after biting into the tabs. All were under two years of age.
Four of the five toddlers needed breathing tubes to maintain their airways, as the chemical burns cause severe swelling and ulcers inside the throat and mouth. The children have been on ventilators for up to two weeks after biting into the liquitabs, with one needing surgery to repair the damaged airway.
Dr Fraser explained: “Getting them to hospital straight away is imperative. In most of the cases seen so far we had to insert a tube to protect the child’s airway from the swelling and help them breathe. If these children hadn’t reached A&E on time the airway could close over completely.
“Most parents are not aware of the dangers of these household items, commonly storing them in unlocked cupboards within potential reach of their child. Toddlers are naturally inquisitive – they like to place objects in their mouths and most liquitab brands do not come packaged in child proof containers, so it is easy to access them.”
Experts had previously been aware of the risk of eye-injuries to children coming into contact with the cleaning agents, but the recent spate of incidents raises the chilling prospect of a child dying from biting into them. Doctors at Yorkhill are so concerned by the trend they have published a warning to medics across the UK.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has issued advise to parents and carers to ensure liquitab products are stored safely at all times, out of reach and sight of young children.Wherever possible, as with all household cleaning products, they should be kept in a locked cupboard or a place the child cannot access.
If anyone suspects a child has ingested a liquitab, they should immediately take them to the nearest accident and emergency. If possible they should also take the bottle or packaging with them, as it can contain information to help doctors treat the patient.
The child should not be given anything to eat or drink and should not be encouraged to be sick. If the child is sick however, they should be helped to prevent choking.