These popular toys cause injuries to children every holiday season. Doctors give advice to avoid deaths

The Christmas holidays are approaching, which for many parents is the peak shopping season. The promise of new toys is one of the most exciting parts of this period for children. But some toys are riskier than others, and some are downright dangerous.

Every holiday season, emergency rooms are flooded with children with toy-related injuries.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it is estimated that in 2022 145,500 emergency room injuries and 11 associated deaths with toys among children 12 years old and younger.

We talked to emergency doctors and pediatricians about the top toys that send kids to the ER and here are some of the tips they shared to keep them safe.

water pearls

Water beads have become increasingly popular in recent years and are often sold as sensory toys for children. The small, brightly colored beads are made of a super absorbent material that expands when wet.

The risk with these is that they may seem sweet, especially to younger children. “We have seen injuries related to both swallowing water beads and placing them in the nose and ears,” Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children’s National Hospital, told .com.

When ingested, water beads can continue to expand in the body and cause discomfort, vomiting, dehydration, or life-threatening injuries, according to the CPSC. Surgery may be required.

“They can be very dangerous and cause intestinal blockages. We have seen that children do not do well after ingesting them,” Dr. Meghan Martin, a pediatric emergency physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, told .com.

According to the CPSC, the majority of the 11 toy-related deaths reported in 2022 were caused by suffocation or suffocation associated with small toy parts.Getty Images

Water beads placed in the ears can damage the structures inside the ear and cause hearing loss, according to the CPSC. It is also possible for children to inhale water beads, which can cause significant lung damage, according to a 2020 report in BMC Pediatrics.

Experts recommend avoid water beads if possible or Keep them out of the reach of children under five years of age. Older children should always be supervised and pearls should be stored in a safe place out of children’s reach, Martin added.

Any toy with disc batteries

Disk batteries are small, flat, circular-shaped batteries that are used to power everything from toys to hearing aids to greeting cards, Dr. Danielle Grant, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics, told .com.

These small batteries do not mix well with curious children. A 2022 study found that the rate of children’s emergency room visits for battery-related injuries has more than doubled over the past decade, .com previously reported.

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Disc batteries can pose a choking hazard and are “extraordinarily dangerous” when ingested, Dr. Shawn Safford, medical director of pediatric services at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Central Pennsylvania, told .com. About once a month, he performs surgery on a child who has ingested a button battery, he added.

Swallowing batteries can cause life-threatening chemical burns to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract, breaks, hemorrhages and deathGrant added.

Batteries lodged in the ears or nose can cause permanent hearing or breathing problems, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Avoid giving small children toys with button batteries, Martin said, or make sure all battery compartments are securely secured and always supervise children while using the toy.

​Toys with magnets or magnetized games

Another popular gift is toys with magnets or high-powered magnetic toy sets – think small cubes, balls or tiles that connect together to create structures or shapes.

The CPSC banned toys with high-powered magnets in 2014, but the ban was lifted in 2016. After that, research showed a sharp increase in magnet-related injuries among children, according to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP). .

“Magnets are small, attractive, and we know that young children love putting things in their mouths,” Combs says. Children could choke on the magnets or swallow them.

When multiple magnets are ingested, they can attract each other and strain the body’s tissues, according to the CPSC. This can lead to intestinal blockages, perforations, infections, blood poisoning and death.

Electric scooters and hoverboards

Electric scooters or e-scooters are increasingly popular. They also send many children to the emergency room with everything from bruises to broken bones to head injuries, Safford reported.

Research suggests that these injuries are becoming more common and serious. According to the AAP, the number of children hospitalized for injuries caused by electric scooters increased between 2011 and 2020.

Non-motorized scooters already cause a significant number of childhood injuries each year, according to the CPSC. Adding an engine and more speed only adds more risk, experts say. The AAP recommends that children under 16 years old not use electric scooters.

Hoverboards also send many children to the hospital, according to Martin.

Any outdoor activity that involves wheels, motorized or non-motorized, requires the proper safety equipment, Combs said. This includes helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. Combs suggested choosing the child’s favorite color or cool designs to get them excited and encourage use.

Toys should also be appropriate for the child’s age and skill level, Grant said, and parents should teach children about traffic safety rules before taking their new vehicle for a spin.

Toys with loose or small parts

According to the CPSC, most of the 11 toy-related deaths reported in 2022 were caused by choking or suffocation associated with small toy parts, balls or balloons.

“Children explore things by putting them in their mouths,” Combs said. Any toy with small or loose parts poses a risk, especially to young children.

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These include things like construction sets, marbles, doll accessories, or toys that can be taken apart. “Something as simple as packaging materials can (even) be a hazard,” Combs explained, adding that all packaging should be thrown away after opening a toy.

“One thing I tell parents is to never give (a child) 3 years old or younger anything that is smaller or fits in a toilet paper roll (tube),” Safford says.

Make sure the smallest piece of a toy is age-appropriate not only for the child receiving it but also for any other children in the home who have access to it, Grant said.