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A dangerous new trend called 'Tide Pod Challenge' is becoming popular on social media, but doctors say it could land them in the emergency room. USA TODAY

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The latest dare to hit the news is the Tide pod challenge, a viral video dare that involves biting or eating a laundry detergent pod. And yes, kids are actually doing it.

Justin Moll, a pediatrician with Parkside Pediatrics in Greenville, said parents of young children should keep detergent pods out of their kids’ reach, and parents of tweens and teens should have a conversation about this and other dares.

“A couple of years ago, the big thing was that these laundry pods were unsafe for kids,” he said. “They were displayed in these clear containers and they were bright and colorful. Kids thought they were candy.”

Dangerous, yes, but solved with storing the detergent like any other household poison.

Eating or biting them intentionally is a different matter.

“Older kids have been daring each other to do crazy and dangerous things since the beginning of time,” Moll said. “It’s not just Tide pods.”

Moll said whether the latest dare is doing some physical stunt, viewing pornography or even sniffing markers, parents have to be involved and know what their children are exposed to.

“Keep an eye on what they are doing, what they are watching or texting,” he said. “Not just keeping an eye on it, but guiding them through it.”

Biting a laundry pod is just the latest risky behavior, Moll said. He stresses the importance of parents being present with their children.

“In this day and age, it’s so hard to be present because there are so many distractions,” he said. “Being present, knowing each other, knowing your kids, having conversations: ‘Did you hear about this? Isn’t that crazy?’”

Though Moll said his practice has not seen any cases of children intentionally biting or eating laundry detergent pods, he said it is very dangerous.

“It’s just obviously a bad idea,” he said. “When you have this little package that’s full of bleach and detergents and surfactants, it could very fast become life threatening. The detergent literally eats away at the tissue of your gums, your cheeks, your intestinal lining, all the way through your digestive tract.”

The pods will likely induce vomiting, according to Moll, which would create a risk of aspirating the detergent.

“So it’s in your lungs and can lead to respiratory failure,” he said.

Ingesting the detergent could lead to explosive diarrhea or other digestive symptoms. If it enters the bloodstream, it can lead to seizures and possibly death, Moll said.

If a child of any age shows severe symptoms of suspected poisoning, Moll said parents should call 911. Even mild symptoms warrant a call to the Palmetto Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

And don’t assume your child won’t act on a dare.

“Kids dare each other,” Moll said. “We as parents, the more involved we are, the more we are talking about things, I think the risks are reduced. I think that’s a message for 2018.”

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