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August 1974

Chronic Gastroduodenitis Due to Laundry Bleach: Sock Sucker Syndrome

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Ochsner Clinic and Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, New Orleans.

Am J Dis Child. 1974;128(2):256-257. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1974.02110270130027

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.

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