Coroner calls for investigation into toilet freshener’s effect on child’s death | Children

A coroner has called for further investigation into whether ingesting a toilet freshener led to the death of a two-year-old girl.

Arietta-Grace Barnett was taken to hospital after possibly ingesting the Toilet Duck capsule and vomiting a “bright pink” liquid.

She was initially judged well enough to leave hospital but was rushed back to Southampton general hospital when she began vomiting blood and died in July last year.

After a two-day inquest in Winchester, Hampshire, the coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said Arietta-Grace was believed to have swallowed a Toilet Duck gel capsule designed to stick to the toilet bowl and slowly release its chemicals.

But Rhodes-Kemp said it had not been proven that the corrosion of the girl’s oesophagus was caused by the product.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, she said further investigation was needed.

“The difficulty we have here is a connection between that product and what happened, and it seems to me that needs further investigation,” she said.

“It is designed to stick to a wet surface and not to be flushed through by water. If it does contain agents that can cause this sort of corrosion and this sort of death in a child then it’s very important the manufacturer is aware of that, can investigate themselves, and steps can be taken to prevent this tragedy occurring again.”

She added: “Toilet bowls are readily accessible to small children and these products are designed to be bright, pretty colours and attractive in smell, particularly to children.”

A paediatric surgeon, Simon Keys, told the hearing it was not certain that a chemical from the product had caused the injury and added: “If this is the explanation for the injury, it’s the first time it’s been described.

“It’s a tragedy clearly, it has wide implications for everybody in the medical community treating people with this type of injury and for the people making these products.”

Arietta-Grace’s mother, Lucy Cook, from Sarisbury Green, Hampshire, described her daughter’s last moments. She said a doctor told her they had done all they could. “I saw Arietta and there was more blood coming out, I was told it was her last breath,” she said.

“Someone gave me Arietta wrapped up in blankets. I noticed Arietta had her brown bow in her hair and she must have put this in herself.”

Earlier, Dr Nicola Trevelyan, a consultant paediatrician at Southampton general hospital, said it was not known why the girl’s vomit was pink; the capsule was blue-green.

She said no one had seen Arietta-Grace swallow the capsule, but added: “That seemed to be the most logical thing she might have taken. My experience as a paediatrician is that products that look like sweets will attract children to play with them.”

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