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Toddler's Eyes Burned by Detergent Pods
WHITWELL, Tenn. -- A family in Tennessee wants to warn parents everywhere about laundry detergent "pods."
Their warning comes after 2-year-old Easton Hatfield climbed up on a washing machine and started playing with the colorful packets.
The pods burst, and some of the chemicals inside went into his eyes. Doctors say he sustained an 80 percent chemical burn to both eyes. Easton now has trouble opening his eyes without feeling pain.
Doctors are not certain that Easton will regain his full vision. He has regained 40 percent of his vision, and plans to return to the doctor next week.
Easton's mother Tabby wants parents to be aware of the pods because they look like candy, and are enticing to a child who doesn't know their danger.
Tabby Easton explained that she took her eyes off of Easton for just a brief moment. She says it's important for parents to not only be aware of where their kids are at all times, but also to keep hazardous materials like those detergent pods away from their little hands.
Easton also says she was completely unaware of the dangers posed by the chemicals in the pods, and would not have bought them if she did.
This is not the first time there has been an accident involving detergent pods and a child. In August 2013, a Florida infant died after he ate one of the pods.
The baby boy, who police said was less than a year old, was a resident at a battered women's shelter in Kissimmee, Florida. According to police, the shelter hands out laundry detergent packets individually to residents.
"The mother took the laundry detergent packets, put them in the laundry basket, which was on the bed, and the child was sleeping on the bed," Kissimmee Police Department spokeswoman Stacie Miller told ABCNews.com.
Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center of Tampa, said problems with the detergent pods are very recent.
"They just became available in the U.S. last year, and within weeks to months of them becoming available we began to get reports through the poison centers of children ending up in the hospital following exposure to these pockets," Lewis-Younger told ABCNews.com.
She said the cases vary in severity, often depending on factors that include the child's age and size. The novelty of the problem means that there are not solid numbers on how many children have been harmed significantly, "but we know it's a lot more than we would get with ordinary laundry detergents," Lewis-Younger said.
Dr. Cathleen Clancy, associate medical director for the National Capital Poison Center, explained the dangers of the detergent packets.
"They are double-double concentrated," Clancy told ABC News. "They also have a very, very attractive packaging so that kids see them, they touch them to their mouth, the surface coating dissolves as it's supposed to in the washing machine and then the insides are under a little pressure, especially if you're gripping them with your little toddler hands.
"It squirts into your mouth it's very concentrated detergent," she said. "You take a breath, some of it goes into your lungs, you start to cough, oxygen saturation goes down, you don't have quite enough oxygen to your brain, you get lethargic, then you don't breath, then you throw up. It's a mess."
Clancy says it is difficult for people to believe detergent can be dangerous because so many have used it for so long without problems.
"I think that people need to understand that these are different," she said. "It's certainly not a problem that's going away."
"My recommendation is people not buy them if they have children below the age of 5 in their home," Lewis-Younger said. "However, if they're going to buy them, they need to lock them in a secure location, high."
Lewis-Younger said that whenever there's an exposure, parents should call the poison control centers. The nationwide number is 800-222-1222.
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