Holiday Toy Shopping Requires Smart Choices

Armen Hareyan's picture

Recent toy recalls have caused concern with parents getting ready to do their holiday shopping, but doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC say consumers still have plenty of safe options in the toy aisles.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been 41 toy recalls since Aug. 1 of this year, with 23 recalls alone since Oct. 1. Of the 41 toys recalled, 78 percent have involved lead hazards. Despite the numbers, there is no reason to panic, according to Edward P. Krenzelok, PharmD, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children's Hospital and UPMC.


"Items containing lead are potentially hazardous, but people should not be overly concerned," Krenzelok said. "The chances of lead poisoning are extremely small, because it poses the most harm only if the child ingests the lead. When it comes to toys of any kind, parental supervision is the key factor. Parents also must be aware of any paint around the home that is chipped or peeling and that could easily be swallowed by children."

If parents do have a concern that their child may have been accidentally poisoned, they may call the Poison Center at any hour of the day. The Pittsburgh Poison Center responds to more than 123,000 requests for poison information each year and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Its toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222.

Just as important this time of year is that adults not overlook something that could lead to an otherwise preventable injury. "Never give children toys with small pieces that they could choke on, or sharp edges on which they could get cut," advised Barbara Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children's. "Always make sure a toy is age-appropriate for your child. Age guidelines for toys may be found by checking the package label."

Parents are advised to use sound judgment when making buying decisions. Avoid toys with breakable, loose or removable parts; glass; parts that get hot during use; and toys that emit sharp, loud noises. Never let children play with latex balloons.