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Beware of Small Magnets, Lead Paint When Buying Christmas Toys

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cincinnati Children's hospital is warning parents to beware of Christmas toys with small magnets, as well as toys with lead paint in this Holiday season. In fact, they advise against purchasing brightly colored toys, saying they are more likely to contain lead paint that could be ingested by children. Symptoms of lead toxicity include stomachache and vomiting. Magnets are easily swallowed by children, also posing health risks from Christmas toys.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, last spring, recalled six products due to paint that contained high levels of lead. Cincinnati Children's radiologist Alan Oestreich, MD, suggests it might be good for parents to wait before buying the newest toys that could possibly be recalled. He also recommends checking in with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on a regular basis for the latest toy recall.

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Children who put toys in their mouth can easily ingest paint. Adam Spanier, MD, MPH, PhD, medical director of the Pediatric Environmental Health and Lead Clinic at Cincinnati Children's suggests it is a good idea not to allow children to put toys in their mouth at all. In addition, children should be routinely evaluated by a Pediatrician for lead poisoning between age 9 months and 1 year, and again at age 2. Dr. Spanier also says if your child has never been checked, have a lead level evaluation performed between age three and six, using a simple blood test.

Toys with magnets should be avoided, according to Dr. Oestreich. He explains, "One magnet won't hurt the child. It's when multiple magnets have been swallowed that problems occur. The magnets attract across bowel walls and cause damage. Symptoms include vomiting and stomach ache. X-rays are the only true way to detect ingested magnets. Most cases require surgery, but passing does occur." If your child should swallow a magnet, have X-Rays performed as soon as possible.

Supervise your children during the Christmas Holiday season. Be aware of the hazards of magnets and lead paint when buying Christmas toys. Dr. Spanier reminds us that , "Toys aren't the largest issue; they just get the most news."

Source: Cincinnati Children's Hospital.