The holiday season is a time of joy and giving, especially when it comes to selecting toys for our children. However, this festive spirit can be shattered in an instant if a toy meant to bring happiness ends up causing harm due to defects or undisclosed hazards. The unfortunate reality is that even well-intentioned gifts can turn into sources of danger. It serves as a stark reminder to remain vigilant and informed about the safety of the products we bring into our homes during the holiday season. Too many toys turn out to be defective due to detachable small pieces that can lead to choking, or toys that turn out to be poisonous with a toxic substance. The injuries these toys can cause may even lead to brain injuries, which can cause lasting effects and lead to complications.
The naughty list
As reported by The Consumer Product Safety Commission, toys for children aged 12 and under must undergo third-party testing and obtain certification to meet federal toy safety standards and other applicable requirements. Additional guidance on various aspects, including lead, lead in paint, phthalates, small parts, and tracking labels, is available on specific guidance pages.
While toys are often made with these regulations, testing, and certifications in mind, some defective toys make it past all that and out onto the store shelves despite hazards being present. Usually, these hazards are discovered when a consumer (in the case of toys, a child) is harmed by the toy. When a report on a toy is made, the toy will be recalled.
Here is a list a few toys that have been recalled this year:
- Wooden Music Shaker” and “DTR M&M Maracas” Baby Rattles
- Bubba Bull Plush Toys
- Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway
- The FORT Children’s Play Tents
- Janod Sweet Cocoon Activity Tables
- O.L. Surprise! Trick or Treat subscription boxes sold with Metal Doll Pins
- Children’s Fishing Rods
A common hazard that often sees toys recalled are detachable small parts that can cause choking in small children. This is the case for many of these toys. In some cases, such as the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway and the FORT’S Children Play Tents, the small choking hazards are magnets, which can be particularly hazardous if more than one is swallowed.
The dangers of choking
As per Johns Hopkins, choking prevents oxygen from getting to the lungs and the brain. Lack of oxygen to the brain for more than four minutes may cause brain damage or death. Prolonged periods of low oxygen in the brain, lasting more than five minutes, can lead to severe consequences, including coma, uncontrolled seizures, and ultimately, brain death.
Choking can lead to cerebral hypoxia, wherein the brain is deprived of oxygen. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “long-term effects can include vision problems, swallowing and speech difficulties, impaired thinking and judgment, personality changes, and memory loss. During recovery, psychological and neurological abnormalities such as amnesia, hallucinations, memory loss, and muscle spasms and twitches may appear and then resolve.”
Choking can also lead to an acquired brain injury (ABI). An ABI is simply a brain injury that occurred after birth and is not the result of any congenital or hereditary condition. ABI is often shorthand for non-traumatic brain injuries, such as occur during choking when the brain does not receive enough oxygen. Better Health writes that “it is common for many people with ABI to experience increased fatigue (mental and physical) and some slowing down in how fast they can process information, plan and solve problems. They may experience changes to their behavior and personality, physical and sensory abilities, or thinking and learning.”
Choking is a common cause of death for children, so it is important to keep an eye on your child when they are eating and when they are playing with toys that have small components to them.
The dangers of poisoning
Another reason a toy might be recalled is due to unsafe amounts of lead being detected. This can be seen in two of our previously mentioned toys: L.O.L. Surprise! Trick or Treat subscription boxes sold with Metal Doll Pins, and Children’s Fishing Rods. Both toys were recalled due to the toys containing “levels of lead that exceed the federal lead paint ban, posing a lead poisoning hazard.”
While lead is a natural occurring element, too much of it is toxic for humans, especially children. As a neurotoxin, it affects the nervous system, including the brain and nerves.
The World Health Organization details exactly how dangerous lead poisoning can be to children:
Lead exposure can have serious consequences for the health of children. At high levels of exposure to lead the brain and central nervous system can be severely damaged causing coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may be left with permanent intellectual disability and behavioural disorders. At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems. In particular, lead can affect children’s brain development, resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.
So while lead poisoning can be common throughout the world, it is nothing to ignore. Symptoms of lead poisoning include: constipation, stomach pain, loss of appetite, fatigue and irritability, nausea and vomiting, joint pain and muscle weakness, and headaches.
Both choking and lead poisoning can negatively affect the development of a child’s brain, if not lead to coma or death. When buying your holiday gifts this season, double check to see if the toys you’ve bought have been recalled, and examine any warnings the product may have listed.
When your child is injured by something you bought for them that was meant to bring joy, there’s hardly a worse feeling in the world. While you may feel guilty, the true guilt lies with the toy manufacturer, designer, and possibly the store you bought the toy from. In these cases, it is important to talk with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. At Soroka & Associates, our Columbus-based legal team knows how to handle the legal system, and how to obtain the compensation that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call our office or submit our contact form. We proudly serve those throughout Central Ohio.