When Good Kids Eat Bad Things

HYANNIS – Rob Gronkowski has done a video to speak out against it. YouTube and Facebook took down videos of it. And the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has warned of the dangers of it.

The Tide Pod Challenge has parents, doctors, and health and safety groups alarmed.

Teens have responded to a challenge of biting into and ingesting Tide Pod packets while filming themselves and sharing it on social media, as well as video-sharing websites.

The AAPCC has received more than 50,000 calls over the past five years related to exposure to the liquid laundry packs. While the majority of calls were about children five and under, there was a recent uptick in calls about teens. Since January 1, 2018 there have been 191 calls of ingestion by teenagers ages 13-19 to the AAPC, compared to 39 calls in 2016 and 53 cases in 2017.

While Gregory Parkinson, MD, a pediatrician at Falmouth Hospital, said he hasn’t personally seen any patients who have done the challenge, he is very well aware of it and the dangers it presents to teens.

“Detergent is a surprisingly caustic substance and even before the days of pods, we made note of the products like dishwasher detergent that is concentrated,” he said.

The detergent pods are a combination of polyvinyl alcohol, which is similar to glue; different kinds of soaps; a material to absorb ultraviolet light; enzymes and a form of calcium that helps to dissolve the pod, according to Dr. Parkinson.

He and the AAPCC list some of the following side effects and medical emergencies related to ingestion of the substances in the packets:

Aspiration into the lungs
Nausea, vomiting, and irritation
Drowsiness and depression of the nervous system
Seizures
Pulmonary edema
Respiratory distress
Coma
Death
What’s the Fascination?

“Young people have a sense of adventure; are learning and exploring,” said Dr. Parkinson. “Part of the reason young brains don’t always think twice before they do things is so they are in a position to try new things and go out on their own to have new ventures. This particular one is obviously extremely ill-advised.”

Talking to your teen before something happens is vital, he said.

“This is a pretty straightforward discussion. This stuff is poisonous and anybody who is considering doing it needs to seriously think about what they are trying to accomplish. It’s hard to imagine an upside.”

The good news is that teens appear to be waking up to the dangers, he added.

”Now that it’s becoming public, the vast majority of teens think it’s a bad idea. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to them and they are questioning why somebody would do this. I think it’s going to go far dissuading other young people from doing it. Peer pressure can be used in a positive way.”

By ROBERTA CANNON, Cape Cod Health News

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