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HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital cautions parents and loved ones for Safe Toys and Gifts Month

O’FALLON, IL –    With many buying last minute holiday gifts, you may be considering what toys to buy for the children on your list.  But before you make those purchases, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon pediatricians at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital remind you to consider and check the safety and age-range of the toys. 
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2015 (the most recent data available) there were an estimated 254,200 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments.  However, many can be prevented with proper precaution and supervision.

“While it is always our pleasure to see and care for your children, we encourage you to be safe and selective when choosing what to gift during the holiday season, notes Dr.  Chauncey Tarrant, of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Pediatrics. “When choosing a toy for a child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the toy be appropriate for the child's age and stage of development. This makes it more likely the toy will engage the child – and reduces the risk it could cause injury.”

Of the 254,200-estimated toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries, an estimated 185,500 (73 percent) happened to children younger than 15 years of age; an estimated 175,800 (69 percent) occurred to children 12 years of age or younger; an estimated 88,700 (35 percent) happened to children younger than five years of age. 

In 2016, toy recalls decreased for the second year, with 24 toy recalls, one of which contained lead.  Due to toy safety advocacy and awareness, a lot has improved since 2008, when there were 172 toy recalls, 19 of which were due to excessive lead content. The majority of toy recalls announced last year involved ingestion hazards, as well as mechanical hazards that pose a threat of injury to children.

Follow these tips from CPSC and the US Public Interest Research Group to ensure your child is safe when playing with toys:
  • Make sure toys are age-appropriate.  Check the label before buying, and toys for older children should be kept separate from toys for younger children.
  • Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.  Also make sure the toy would not cause injury if it fell on your child.
  • Make sure all directions or instructions are clear and read all labels.  Look for and heed recommendations and other safety warnings on toys and dolls.
  • Throw away packaging after the purchase (or gift opening).  Packaging can present a choking hazard.  Children can suffocate on plastic bags or choke on peanut-style packaging.
  • Avoid choking hazards.  Never give balloons or small balls to young children.  Children three years of age and younger should not be given toys with parts smaller than the opening of a toilet paper roll.
  • Don’t allow children to play with magnet toys.  If swallowed, some magnets attract to each other internally, causing infection, blockage and ulcerations. 
  • If it sounds too loud, it probably is.  Some toys produce sounds that are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.  Listen to toys before purchasing them, and be cautious in buying talking dolls, toy cars with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, instruments and more.
  • Don’t allow children to play with long cords or strings.  Toys with long strings or cords are dangerous as they can become wrapped around a child’s neck, causing strangulation.
  • Make sure the toys do not contain toxic chemicals.  Awareness of toxic chemicals in toys has largely eradicated them from being used any longer, but it’s worth double checking before you buy – especially if they’re little ones who might put it in their mouth.
Even with all the best planning and precautions, sometimes accidents, injuries and illness can happen. If at any time your child needs emergency medical care, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in partnership with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, has you covered.  Specialized pediatricians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer high-quality pediatric care at St. Elizabeth’s Emergency Department and Newborn Nursery.
To learn more about toy safety, visit https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/toys#resources.

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