Area poison centers taking more calls following Tide Pod Challenge

Children continue to eat a dangerously large number of laundry detergent packets, new data show. (Credit: AP)

St. Louis area poison centers are warning parents and teenagers about the dangerous Tide Pod Challenge.

The challenge has been sweeping social media over the last few weeks and doctors say it’s incredibly dangerous.

“This isn't something to be playing with,” said Julie Weber, director of Missouri Poison Center. “This product is definitely not for ingestion and to be used in the laundry machine.”

Weber says they have not had any reported cases of teenagers intentionally ingesting the pods, but says more calls are coming in from parents wanting to know more about the effects.

Nationally, teens have been biting into the pods, recording it and posting on social media. The risky challenge can lead to persistent vomiting, irritate your throat and lungs and result in teens being on a ventilator.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers handled 53 cases of intentional consumption in 2017. In the first 15 days of 2018 it has handled 39 cases.

“Last year we had over 300 calls with unintentional exposures in children 5 and under getting into these pods and now the company has taken steps to make the packaging safer to build awareness,” said Weber. “Now now we have teens doing this intentional, we really have to stress that message to them that this is now just a joke it can be very seriously.”

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