Health officials warn against 'Tide Pod Challenge'

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Laundry pods are supposed to be used for washing clothes. But in a new social media craze, people are eating them.

"No detergent ingestion is good for the body whatsoever," said Brandon Stewart, a physician assistant at Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg.

It's called the Tide Pod Challenge, where people record themselves eating laundry pods.

"You'll end up having to come to the emergency department to get evaluated. We'll have to call poison control to see what further we may need to do," Stewart said.

39 reports of teenagers intentionally misusing laundry pods came in during the first 15 days of 2018, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

To put that into context, there were 39 cases of intentional misuse of these pods among teenagers in all of 2016.

Mark Sibicky, a psychology professor at Marietta College, says peer pressure is one of the reasons teens get caught up in these challenges.

"Teenagers are especially susceptible to peer pressure because they're forming their kind of self-identity and their self-esteem and basically want to impress their friends," Sibicky said.

He believes what contributes to the popularity of these fads is social media.

"YouTube, Facebook, and the way we have social media today increases the audience and pressure for teenagers to sometimes act out like this," he said.

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