By Dorrine Mendoza
(CNN) — A 7-month-old boy died in a Florida hospital after eating a laundry detergent pod, officials confirmed, although they have not said whether the detergent caused the boy’s death.
An investigation into the August 9 death is ongoing, said Terri Durdaller with the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The department has had a “prior history with this family,” Durdaller said, declining to elaborate. The Orlando Sentinel reports the mother and child were in a battered women’s shelter at the time of the incident.
There are no known documented cases of children dying from laundry detergent packets, said Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director for the Florida Poison Information Center.
Lewis-Younger would not confirm the baby, whom the Orlando newspaper identified as Michael Williams, had died as a direct result of consuming the pod.
If the cause of death is ruled as poisoning from the laundry detergent pod, it would be the first of its kind. Nationally, 5,753 children age 5 or younger have been sickened by eating laundry detergent packets so far this year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Officials in the United States and the United Kingdom have raised concerns about the detergent packets, saying their color may make them appear to children as candy.
“The death of little Michael is a tragedy,” Durdaller said in an e-mail. “It reminds all of us as parents (about) the dangers of leaving household cleaning supplies around our little ones.
“Unfortunately, on average we lose 20 children each year to accidental poisoning in the state of Florida.”
Durdaller said the medical examiner will make the final determination on the cause of the baby’s death.
CNN’s Mike Ahlers, Marlena Baldacci and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.
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