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Pre-packaged detergent packs are advertised as a convenient alternative to heavy and spill-prone bottles of liquid detergent. But parents should be warned that doctors have seen an uptick in the number of children that have accidentally consumed the colorful detergent packs after confusing them with candy.

Nearly 250 cases of accidental poisoning have been reported this year alone from kids consuming detergent packs. Although this represents only a small portion of the total number of poisoning cases reported each year, doctors are very concerned about kids consuming detergent packs because of the severe side effects, including breathing problems and nausea. Doctors speculate that consuming the detergent packs is more dangerous than consuming liquid or powder detergent because one pack contains one full cup of detergent and may activate more quickly than other types of detergent.

Both Tide and Purex introduced the pre-packaged detergent packs in March. Tide spokesman Paul Fox says that the company is working with poison control centers and advocacy groups to make sure parents know the risks of the packs and how to properly handle and store them. Purex has not commented.

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