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Dangerous products: Group warns of toy balls that swell in water

One way that young children learn is by putting things, including small toys, in their mouths. Unfortunately, certain toys can be extremely dangerous if swallowed. Last year, a popular small toy that expands dramatically in water was recalled after an 8-month-old girl swallowed one and needed surgery. While that toy, Dunecraft Water Balz, is no longer on the market, similar absorbent polymer balls are on the market, and they could be dangerous for Naperville children.

Consumer Reports, the product review publication, recently reviewed the toys. The magazine says that the small toy balls and beads are potentially dangerous products. As part of its review, Consumer reports looked at the Dunecraft Water Balz, but it also examined tiny polymer beads that are still on the market and found that they can be dangerous. The products look like candy. If a small child swallows them, they could expand enough to block the child's intestines or airway.

In the case of the Dunecraft Water Balz, the baby who swallowed them was taken to the hospital. Nothing showed up on an X-ray, but doctors performed surgery, where they removed a 1 ½ inch ball from her small intestine. A doctor says that if the baby hadn't had surgery, her intestines could have perforated, leading to infection and possibly death.

One company with toys on the market has placed warnings on its product for choking and indicates that it is not intended for children under a certain age. Is that enough to protect children from swallowing the toys? In some countries, the super-absorbent polymer balls have been banned. In the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission is also examining these products. Consumer Reports, meanwhile, urges parents to keep the products out of reach of small children.

Source: ABC 7, Warning about popular toy balls that expand in water, April 8, 2013

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