The 'Tide Pod Challenge' phenomenon has spread across social media since the turn of the year.
Scores of teens have filmed themselves biting into Tide laundry detergent capsules and then posting the videos on YouTube.
A video by CollegeHumor titled ‘Don't Eat the Laundry Pods’ posted in March 2017 has been viewed more than three million times.
Now there has been a spike in the number of cases of detergent pod ingestion in the first two weeks of 2018 reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
Health officials have warned the capsules contain “highly concentrated toxic contents” which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and in worst case scenarios, breathing difficulties.
“Teens trying to be funny are now putting themselves in danger by ingesting this poisonous substance,” Ann Marie Buerkle, from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, told Good Morning America.
A spokesperson for Procter & Gamble, Tide’s parent company, said: “Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and they’re used safely in millions of households every day.
“They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children.
“They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if it is meant as a joke.”
Eight deaths as a result of eating detergent pods were reported from 2012 to early 2017 in the US, involving six adults suffering from dementia and two children.
In 2013, a seven-month-old boy from Florida died after biting into a laundry pod.