An important warning from Connecticut Children’s Division Head of Emergency Medicine: John Brancato, MD.

As we head into the holidays, please be aware of where certain dangerous objects are in your home. Water beads, button batteries and magnets can be fatal if ingested or inserted into parts of the body.

Here is the harsh reality of all three...

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What can happen if a child ingests a water bead?

Water beads are very cute and are sometimes used as a sensory toy. The challenge is that they swell up remarkably. They are soft when they absorb water, which seems like they shouldn’t pose danger that way.

But, when they get into the places where kids tend to put things like the ear canal, nose,  or if they swallow them or inhale them, they can cause obstruction.

We see so many children who put things in places of their body, which is a normal developmental part of life. But, one of those tiny beads placed in, say, an ear canal can be serious.

We don’t worry so much if it’s a real bead from a bracelet; we can get that out. Same with a kernel of corn. But water beads are highly, highly dangerous.

They can swell to the point where they cause:

  • pressure against the ear drum 
  • obstruction of the nasal passage or airway and; 
  • bowel obstruction and infections in the abdomincal cavity if swallowed. 

Please think twice before buying water beads or products that contain them.

How can I protect my child from button batteries?

Button batteries power all kinds of things from toy watches to channel changers. It's very important to be aware of the danger they pose and the time frame to take action. Within an hour, even if lodged in esophagus, can cause necrosis (eating through the wall of the esophagus into the central tissues) or death of the esophageal tissue.

Did you know?

Even batteries that are old and "don't work anymore" still cause a current and chemical reaction that burn through the tissues and erode into large arteries, causing life-threatening or fatal bleeding, infections, or other complications that require multiple surgeries and long hospital stays, much like this boy's experience.

Button battery safety reminders:

  • Keep out of reach of children as the warning labels state.
  • Do not let young children replace them.
  • Make sure that spaces in objects that hold batteries are tightly secured so they cannot slip out.

What happens if a child swallows magnetic objects?

In last 10-20 years, small, round magnets like the ones used in artistic displays, have become very popular.

A single small magnet is probably not a large concern, but ingesting more than one magnet can cause serious damage, necrosis and infection if they work their way down the GI tract into the intestine.

Accidents happen, sometimes in an instant. The quality and safety of a product can make all the difference. Please spread the word to your loved ones.