CPSC: 22 children died in toy-related deaths in 2006

Consumer Reports News: December 12, 2007 09:04 PM

While toys with lead paint and tiny magnets have gotten a lot of attention this year, statistics released today by the Consumer Product Safety Commission serve as a sobering reminder that the simple and most classic of toys—balloons, tricycles, scooters and balls—are often just as hazardous.         

The new data on toy-related deaths and injuries in 2006 show that riding toys, especially non-motorized scooters, continue to account for most of the toy-related deaths and injuries. Last year, there were 220,500 toy-related injuries that prompted emergency-room treatment. Of those, 165,100 involved children under 15, about the same number as in 2002 and 2004.

Deaths totaled 22 in 2006, down from 26 in 2005 but the same as 2004.  The incidents—involving children from 3 months to 13—are described in the CPSC report. The details are grim but can provide important safety lessons, which is why we are publishing them here. (Please note that many of the incidents were related to but not necessarily caused by a toy.)

  • Non-motorized scooters: Three deaths occurred when children either hit or were hit by an automobile. The children ranged in age from six to 13 years.
  • Toy nails and pegs: Three children died when they choked on or aspirated plastic nails or pegs. One 19-month-old boy died after choking on an oversized plastic nail from a toy workbench. A second boy, 2, died when he fell while running with a toy nail; the nail got wedged in the back of his throat. Another two-year-old suddenly started coughing and stopped breathing. He died at the hospital where an autopsy showed a plastic peg from a toy had become lodged in his left bronchus.
  • Rubber balls: Three children died when they either aspirated or choked on small rubber balls. Two of the children who choked on small rubber balls were about one year old while the third child was an autistic eight-year-old who aspirated a rubber ball.
  • Powered riding toys: There were three fatalities. A boy, 3, was riding a battery-powered toy four-wheeler unsupervised and fell into a pond. A girl, 2, was riding her battery-powered toy truck as her family walked along on a sidewalk; a speeding car hit and killed her. A 6-year-old died when the cape of his costume became entangled in the axle of the gasoline-powered ATV  he was riding and strangled him.
  • Tricycles: There were two fatalities. In separate incidents, a three-year-old female and a three-year-old male fell into the family in-ground swimming pool while riding a tricycle and drowned.
  • Stuffed toys: There were two deaths associated with stuffed toys . A six-month-old fell off the parents' bed into a pile of stuffed animals and suffocated A three-month-old fell off a bed into a container of stuffed toys and suffocated.
  • Other balls: There were two deaths from unspecified types of balls. One struck a girl, 10, while she was playing at school; she died of inter-cerebral hemorrhage. A 17-month-old was run over when he followed the ball with which he was playing as it rolled behind a truck.
  • Balloons: A nine-month-old female died of upper airway obstruction caused by an uninflated balloon.
  • Rubber darts: A 10-year-old boy died from aspirating a rubber dart. He had been chewing on a toy gun dart when he had trouble breathing and collapsed. At the ER, he was found to have a rubber dart in his right lung.
  • Toy organizer: A nine-month-old, found underneath a wooden toy organizer, died of neck compression.
  • Unspecified: A seven-year-old boy was chewing on a plastic toy when a small part of the toy broke off and became lodged in his throat. He died of asphyxia.

Such reports tell us that we should be as vigilant about the playthings already in our homes as we are about keeping lead-tainted toys and other hazards out of the home.

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