Posts Tagged ‘ choking hazard ’

Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces Could Pose Choking Hazard

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Baltic amber teething necklaces, which have been in high demand among fashion-conscious moms since model Gisele Bündchen posted a photo last summer of one of the necklaces on her baby, may pose a serious choking hazard, according to a group of bloggers and doctors who are working to get the message out about the necklaces’ dangers.  More from The New York Times:

Baltic amber necklaces, as they are known, have become popular as an alternative treatment to ease teething pain in infants and toddlers in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and, increasingly, the United States. Retailers claim that when warmed by the baby’s body temperature, the amber releases a pain-relieving substance that is then absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.

But there is no evidence to back up these claims, and a larger concern is the significant suffocation hazard posed by the teething necklaces, particularly if children are left unattended.

“The risk is two-fold — strangulation and choking,” said Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Kansas City, Mo., who has blogged about the dangers of amber necklaces. “And that’s not only for these teething necklaces. In general practice, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend that infants wear any jewelry.”

In 2010, Health Canada, the country’s federal department of public health, determined that the necklaces were enough of an issue to warrant a consumer product safety warning that highlighted the strangulation risk. France and Switzerland have banned sale of the necklaces in pharmacies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suffocation is the leading cause of death for children under a year old and among the top five causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.

Vendors of Baltic amber necklaces commonly advertise that the necklaces are safe because the string is knotted between each individual bead, so if the necklace breaks only one piece will fall off. But one loose bead is enough for a child to choke on, said Dr. Isabelle Claudet, head of the pediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital in Toulouse, France. And because the necklaces are produced and sold by smaller vendors, the lack of manufacturing standards makes it impossible to guarantee that any safety clasps will come apart as intended if the necklace becomes caught on anything, increasing the potential for strangulation.

Image: Amber beaded jewelry, via Shutterstock

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Toxic, Dangerous Toys Still on Some Store Shelves, Report Says

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The U.S. Public Interest Research Organization has released its 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” survey, which has found on store shelves a number of toys that are known to be dangerous or made of toxic materials. The offending toys include those that pose choking or laceration hazards, contain toxic chemicals like lead and BPA that are associated with health risks, or exceed recommended limits for safe noise levels around young ears.

Parents are urged to carefully read all printed warnings on toys they are planning to purchase this holiday season, and to review the report to educate themselves on the warning signs of a dangerous toy.

CNN.com has more:

Over the years, the organization said, its reports have led to more than 150 recalls and other regulatory actions.

This year’s list “includes a potentially dangerous magnet toy, a bowling game that is a choking hazard and a key chain rattle that may be harmful to little ears,” it said.

Researchers visited national toy stores, malls and dollar stores in September, October and November this year to look for potential toxic, choking, strangulation and noise hazards.

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Nasima Hossain, public health advocate for Public Interest Research Group, in a release detailing the report.

The Toy Industry Association, which represents more than 500 manufacturers in the United States, said, “Safety is our top priority all year,” and a spokesman called the group’s survey “another of its needlessly frightening reports.”

Image: Child in toy store, via Shutterstock

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CPSC Bans Sale of Buckyball Magnets, Citing Child Health Hazard

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a stop-sale order for Buckyballs, a magnetic stress ball toy that is meant for adults but has caused dangerous health problems in children.  The ban is despite efforts by Buckyballs’ efforts to prevent the product from getting into children’s hands; the company’s website still has a statement reading, “A government agency (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) is saying they should be recalled because children occasionally get ahold of them. This is unfair. We market exclusively to adults. We are vigorously defending our right to market these products you love.”

Reuters reports on the CPSC’s decision:

The commission ordered distributor Maxfield and Oberton Holdings of New York to halt sales because injuries to children who had swallowed them had continued to rise, the CPSC said in a complaint.

“Notwithstanding the labeling, warnings and efforts taken by (Maxfield and Oberton), ingestion incidents continued to rise because warnings are ineffective,” the CPSC said. It said the magnets presented a “substantial product hazard.”

Buckyballs are small, powerful round rare earth magnets that are sold as toys and desktop accessories. When children swallow them they can pinch or trap intestines and require surgery to remove, the CPSC said.

Since they went on the market in 2009, numerous incidents involving children have been reported. In January 2011, a 4-year-old boy had his intestine perforated after he swallowed three magnets he thought were chocolate candy, the complaint said.

Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said.

Image: Buckyballs, via http://www.ohgizmo.com/

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Study Tracks Serious Health Risks of Button Batteries

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Children’s emergency room visits related to swallowed batteries have risen an astounding 113 percent over the past 20 years, with a child under age 18 arriving at an ER every 90 minutes, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found.  The study, which was conducted by Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that batteries, especially the small, flat “button batteries” that are found in so many electronic devices, can pose serious health risks, and can cause death if they become lodged in the esophagus.

Three-quarters of the hospital visits are for children ages 5 and under, with the greatest number involving 1-year-olds.  Most of the batteries, when their origin is known, do not come from toys or children’s games; they come from their parents’ watches, calculators, and other electronics.

Research advise parents to prevent battery-related injuries in their families by taking the following steps:

  • Tape the battery compartments of all household devices shut.
  • Store batteries and products with batteries out of the reach of young children.
  • Be aware of this potential danger when your child is visiting other homes.

Image: Button batteries, via Shutterstock.

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