The cause of chronic intermittent gastroduodenitis in a 7-year-old girl could not be established despite observation in hospital, numerous radiological and laboratory tests, and two major surgical procedures. Her mother happened to mention that the child had a deeply entrenched habit of sucking on her white socks that were heavily bleached. Discontinuation of the habit resulted in remission of symptoms and resumption of the habit resulted in recurrence. A careful history failed to disclose any other materials ingested, and for several months, when the socks were boiled rather than bleached, the patient was symptom-free. It seems reasonable that the child was ingesting enough bleach to cause periodic abdominal distress. Since sucking on clothing or bed linen is a fairly common habit in children, many cases of unexplained abdominal pain in children may be the result of chronic ingestion of bleach sucked from cloth.
Loeb FX, King TL. Chronic Gastroduodenitis Due to Laundry Bleach: Sock Sucker Syndrome. Am J Dis Child. 1974;128(2):256–257. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1974.02110270130027
Artificial Intelligence Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.