Super-absorbent toy ball caution - WRBL

Super-absorbent toy ball caution

Posted: Updated:

They're colorful and alluring, but Consumer Reports says there's a potential safety hazard with popular small toy balls and beads that expand dramatically in water. There are many of those super-absorbent polymer balls on the market, although one was recalled late last year—Dunecraft Water Balz. 

It was recalled after an 8-month-old swallowed one. She was rushed to the hospital, where doctors couldn't see anything on the X-ray. But in surgery they removed a ball almost 1 1/2 inches in diameter from her small intestine. Her pediatric surgeon said, "If nothing had been done, the intestines would have perforated, the child would have had significant infection and sepsis, and could have possibly died from it."

Consumer Reports examined the recalled Dunecraft Water Balz fresh out of its package. And then the identical ball that soaked in water for two days. Consumer Reports also looked at tiny polymer beads that are still on the market, including Orbeez. Though their full size is much smaller than the banned Water Balz, Consumer Reports says that they also pose a safety hazard for small children. The products look a lot like candy or gum, but they can expand enough within a few hours to block the intestine or airway of a small child.

The Orbeez beads do carry warnings. On the front the package says, "Choking hazard … not for children under three years." On the back it says, "Not suitable for children under the age of five." Meanwhile Orbeez, whose beads are smaller than others on the market, says its tests show the toy is "safe for the children for whom it is intended." Orbeez says the balls should pass through their digestive tract. However, Consumer Reports says all products of this type can pose a choking hazard or risk of a blocked airway for any small child The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's currently investigating polymer balls and beads.

Although additional injuries have not yet been documented in the U.S., several have been reported in other countries, including one fatality. All types of super-absorbent polymer balls have been banned in Italy and Malaysia. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it regards "the incident involving the 8-month-old girl to be very serious, and as a result CPSC staff are taking a broader look at this product class."

The balls are found not only in toys but are also sold widely as decorations. Consumer Reports strongly urges that parents and caregivers keep those products out of the reach of small children.

Sarah Panko

Sarah is the anchor/ producer for News Three First Edition at 5/4 central time. She also brings you the latest Consumer Reports on the Nightwatch at 11/10 central. More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Authorities: Man walks into sheriff's office, confesses to sexual abuse

    Authorities: Man walks into sheriff's office, confesses to sexual abuse

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:58:31 GMT
    Johnny Row BoltJohnny Row Bolt
    A 62-year-old Chambers County man was arrested on two counts of Sexual Abusecharges. Authorities with the Chambers County Sheriff's Office say Johnny Bolt, of Five Points, walked into the sheriff's office this week and confessed to sexually abusing a family member under the age of 12. They say he was arrested Thursday and made bond that same day.
    A 62-year-old Chambers County man was arrested on two counts of Sexual Abusecharges. Authorities with the Chambers County Sheriff's Office say Johnny Bolt, of Five Points, walked into the sheriff's office this week and confessed to sexually abusing a family member under the age of 12. They say he was arrested Thursday and made bond that same day.
  • Opelika family in need of wheelchair accessible van

    Opelika family in need of wheelchair accessible van

    Sunday, April 20 2014 7:22 PM EDT2014-04-20 23:22:14 GMT
    An Opelika family needs your help. They are raising money for a wheelchair accessible van for their 7 year old special needs daughter. Her name is Abbie. She suffers from a rare brain disorder. The disease attacks the portion of her brain that controls hearing, speech, balance and the ability to swallow.
    An Opelika family needs your help. They are raising money for a wheelchair accessible van for their 7 year old special needs daughter. Her name is Abbie. She suffers from a rare brain disorder. The disease attacks the portion of her brain that controls hearing, speech, balance and the ability to swallow.
  • Grandmother of boy tied up in Macy's bathroom speaks

    Grandmother of boy tied up in Macy's bathroom speaks

    Friday, April 18 2014 1:26 PM EDT2014-04-18 17:26:14 GMT
    The grandmother, whose face is concealed to protect child's identityThe grandmother, whose face is concealed to protect child's identity
    The family of an 8-year-old boy, who police say was tied up and assaulted in Peachtree Mall, pleading for the public's help after nearly two weeks with no arrest.
    The family of an 8-year-old boy, who police say was tied up and assaulted in Peachtree Mall, pleading for the public's help after nearly two weeks with no arrest.
  • On Your SideMore>>

  • Alabama State Trooper injured in shootout

    Alabama State Trooper injured in shootout

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-04-21 01:59:28 GMT
    An Alabama State Trooper has been released from the hospital after he was in a shootout with two men in southeast Alabama.
    An Alabama State Trooper has been released from the hospital after he was in a shootout with two men in southeast Alabama.
  • Columbus man shot in face, another injured in weekend shooting

    Columbus man shot in face, another injured in weekend shooting

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:55 PM EDT2014-04-21 01:55:24 GMT
    Columbus Police are looking for the gunman responsible for shooting a man in the face and a woman in the leg on Saturday.
    Columbus Police are looking for the gunman responsible for shooting a man in the face and a woman in the leg on Saturday.
  • Escaped inmate tased twice, jumps in lake during capture

    Escaped inmate tased twice, jumps in lake during capture

    Saturday, April 19 2014 2:01 PM EDT2014-04-19 18:01:28 GMT
    Grisset shows which way Adams ranGrisset shows which way Adams ran
    Darrin Adams got away from a Muscogee County prison detail last Friday. This came months after he escaped from the Lee County Detention Center in December and another Georgia prison in 1994. Lee County authorities found him late Wednesday night.
    Darrin Adams got away from a Muscogee County prison detail last Friday. This came months after he escaped from the Lee County Detention Center in December and another Georgia prison in 1994. Lee County authorities found him late Wednesday night.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.