PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Parents are sounding the alarm about a popular product that they believe could be harmful to children.
Water balls are sold by different companies under different names.
They can be smaller than a grain of rice before they absorb water. Originally, beads were made for plants, but now they are increasingly sold in various children’s products.
At least one parent sued the manufacturer and distributor of one of the products. The lawsuit says some children swallow them and the balls block airways and organs.
One-year-old Kennedy Mitchell accidentally swallowed a bead last month. Her mother Folikia shared photos of Kennedy in the hospital. She said the pellet had blocked her intestines.
“She was limping and empty,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell told the Action News Investigative Team that she bought the water balloons in August for her 8-year-old son. It’s unclear how her 1-year-old child got hold of it.
“She literally only swallowed one bead,” she said.
Mitchell said doctors were confused at first. Kennedy began vomiting bile and was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors finally identified the source of the problem.
“It never occurred to me until that moment,” she said. “And it felt like I was being punched right in the face.”
Attorney Tom Bosworth and the Mitchell family are suing Buffalo Games, its parent company and retailer Target for what they say are inadequate warnings on the Chuckle and Roar water balloon product.
“This product is essentially a ticking time bomb,” Bosworth said. “Every day I learn about more children.”
Bosworth said the water balloons are currently labeled only as a choking hazard, and not for children under 3.
Bosworth said what’s missing from the label is that they can expand inside the body.
“There is no warning of bowel obstruction, no warning of death,” she said.
Similar products were recalled nearly a decade ago, Bosworth said.
Ashley Haugen also told the Action News Investigative Team that her young daughter nearly died in 2017 after ingesting a similar product.
She has since started a website, This water beadwhich warns of potential danger.
“You know, the doctor said it could kill the babies,” she said.
Haugen said she met with the Consumer Product Safety Commission last week to talk about the potential danger.
“I hope they take them off the market,” she added.
Target has since pulled the Chuckle and Roar water balloons that Mitchell purchased from their shelves, but we found that similar products can still be purchased online.
Mitchell said Kennedy has returned home and is expected to recover.
“So I hope parents don’t buy them because they’re dangerous, and they’re not marketed as dangerous,” she said.
Buffalo Games, the company that sells the water balloons Mitchell bought, told ABC News that its products meet current toy safety standards. The company is evaluating the situation to see if further action is necessary.
We take this situation very seriously and offer our deepest condolences to these families. Safety is a top priority at Target, and we require our suppliers to comply with all product safety standards and all state, federal and local laws. We have removed this product from stores and Target.com while we resolve these issues with the vendor.
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