An increase in the number of babies injured by swallowing brightly coloured liquitabs used in washing machines and dish washers has led to a health board issuing a safety warning to parents.

On average, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow is dealing with two cases a month of babies and toddlers swallowing or biting the capsules and being burned by the contents.

The alkaline chemicals in liquitabs can be fatal because they can make the throat swell, causing breathing problems, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said.

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As part of a "Not for play ... keep them away" safety campaign with Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the health board is urging parents to keep cleaning products out of reach and is distributing 16,000 cupboard catches to make it more difficult to open doors to the dangerous chemicals.

The campaign aims to particularly target people with babies aged between three and four months.

Consultant Haytham Kubba, who works at the sick children's hospital, said: "Most parents are unaware of the dangers of liquitabs but to small children, the bright, colourful, gel-like cubes are definitely of interest and they can be very dangerous.

"The injuries from these products can be life threatening, causing considerable distress to both the child and their family. Treatment often involves intubation (inserting a tube to help breathing), surgery, as well as a lengthy stay in hospital. Then there's follow-up appointments and, in some cases, further surgery.

"Our health visiting teams will be able to get some 16,000 cupboard catches and important information into all homes in Greater Glasgow and Clyde with a new baby.

"Our plan is over the next year all families with 12 to 16-week-old babies will receive a cupboard catch that they can easily fit to the cupboard where they keep household items such as liquitabs.

"Hopefully this will raise awareness and save any more children or parents going through the trauma of being rushed to hospital and possibly having quite major treatment."

Juliet Turner is one parent who knows how dangerous liquitabs are. Her daughter Eva was 15-months-old when she bit on a capsule and ended up in intensive care.

Ms Turner said: "Even although the liquitabs were in a box which had a click-lid, Eva still managed to get into it. She bit into the liquitab but was sick straight away.

"I didn't want to take any chances as I had heard about how toxic liquitabs could be so I took Eva straight to hospital where she was kept in intensive care overnight.

"It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life so I think these cupboards catches are a great idea. These look easy to fix on cupboards and anything that will help keep children safe is worth it."

The health board says it spoke to parents to discuss the best way to raise awareness of the dangers and the child-resistant cupboard catches were suggested as a solution.

Children and Young People Minister Aileen Campbell said: "As every parent knows, children love to explore. It is a constant challenge managing all of the safety risks in the family home, including access to household chemicals.

"Fitting a cupboard catch is a simple but very effective measure that can help keep inquisitive children safe.

"The Scottish Government is proud to support NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's work to increase child safety in the home."