STATEMENT: Toy water beads recalled, parents should be wary of other beads

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WASHINGTONWater beads sold by Target were recalled Thursday because they pose the risks of choking and death, according to an announcement by Buffalo Games and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC.) 

Buffalo Games recalled about 52,000 sets of its Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits after being connected to one infant death and one serious injury. If someone swallows a tiny water bead, saliva can make it expand and block an airway or cause an intestinal obstruction, which could lead to death. A pea-sized water bead can grow to the size of a tennis ball, according to studies involving various brands of water beads. They are often used as sensory toys for children with autism. However, they may also look like gumballs or other candy.

A 10-month-old baby in Wisconsin died in July after swallowing the recalled beads, the announcement said. Buffalo Games also received a report last November that a 9-month-old baby in Maine had an intestinal obstruction and surgery after swallowing the water beads.. 

CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement that concern about water beads goes beyond this one product. “In recent months, the commission has heard from numerous parents whose young children have suffered grievous injuries or death as a result of ingesting water beads … The risk, however, is not limited to a single product. All small children who have access to water beads are at risk,” he said.

In a statement, CPSC Commissioner Peter Feldman echoed that the CPSC is paying attention to water beads. “While this is the Commission’s first water beads recall, similar products remain available across a variety of retail platforms,” he said.

In response, Teresa Murray, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog, said:

“Consumer advocates have known about the risk of water beads since last year. It’s tragic beyond words that it took a baby dying two months ago to prompt this recall. The CPSC heard gut-wrenching testimony this summer from families whose lives will never be the same because their child innocently swallowed a colorful water bead by accident. 

“While it’s important for the CPSC to conduct a thoughtful investigation of any potentially dangerous product, we hope the commission acts quickly to address the risks of all water beads, even those not intended as toys, before another baby dies needlessly. 

“We also hope parents and caregivers won’t wait for a recall to get water beads out of their homes and daycares. When a tiny red or blue ball that looks like candy can expand exponentially if swallowed, the risk to children is too great.”