Toddler's tragic death after swallowing toilet cleaner

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

A two-year-old girl died last year after ingesting a toilet freshener capsule in what is believed to be the first ever such case to be reported.

Arietta-Grace Barnett was rushed to Southhampton General Hospital in the UK on June 28, 2019, after she began vomiting “bright pink” liquid at her home in Hampshire.

It is believed she ingested a Toilet Duck product and her death has been ruled accidental.

Arietta-Grace was released on July 2 and had a follow-up appointment the next day, however she began bleeding one week later, an inquest heard this week, according to BBC.

She died in hospital on July 9.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said a potential problem with the toilet product is that it is designed to slow-release “gobbles” of chemicals.

Arietta-Grace Barnett aged two eating a banana and smiling.
Arietta-Grace Barnett, 2, died on July 9 one week after she's believed to have eaten a Toilet Duck product. Source: GoFundMe

"The child-proofing wasn't child proof because it had definitely been tampered with at the top and according to Mum, that was done by one of the children," she said.

"It was possible for this to be opened, that is an issue and will have implications to manufacturers and parents about how they keep this type of product."

Dr Nicola Trevelyan, a consultant paediatrician at Southampton General Hospital, told the inquiry it was unclear why Arietta-Grace's vomit was pink when the capsule she had believed to ingested was blue-green, but "products that look like sweets will attract children to play with them".

‘Totally unpredictable’

The coroner has called for further investigation to ensure the manufacturer of the product be alerted to its potentially deadly nature.

Paediatric surgeon, Simon Keys, told the hearing that Arietta-Grace’s injuries “been described in a child before,” according to the BBC.

"If this is what has happened to Arietta, this is the first time it has happened in the world," he said.

A stock image of a toilet cleaning product.
It's believed the toddler ingested a Toilet Duck cleaning product but doctors are unsure if this lead to the cause of her death. Source: Getty stock

“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.

“The outcome was totally unpredictable and I do not think we can say for certain that this product caused that injury.”

A spokeswoman for SC Johnson, which makes the toilet cleaning product, said the young girl’s death was “heartbreaking” and that their thoughts were with the family.

“As it remains unclear exactly what caused this tragedy, we are unable to provide further comment at this time,” they said.

Arietta-Grace's family has started a GoFundMe page to fund the legal representation needed for the inquest.

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