Kids Safety: Expanding Bead Toys Can Lead To Ear Injuries In Children, New Report Says

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald August 11, 12:00 am

Parents should watch out for the safety of their children in the toys they buy for the young ones to play with. A new report published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery has revealed that bead toys that expand when place in water can cause ear injuries in children.

"I think that no children should play with these beads. I think they're very dangerous. It's not worth the risk of having permanent hearing loss because the bead expands," said ears, nose, throat (ENT) specialist Dr. Pamela Mudd, as per a report in Live Science. According to the report, one girl got deaf in one ear because an expanding bead got stuck on the ear for a long time and caused damages.

Another boy was said to have put numerous expanding beads in his ear and needed to have surgery to take them out. Doctors used water to flush the beads out and as a result, one bead got even more stuck. The boy reportedly needed two surgeries for his ear drum to be repaired. His hearing loss was reversed.

One company behind the expanding bead toys mentioned in the report was Orbeez. According to the company's website, Orbeez beads are superabsorbent polymers that can grow up to more than 100 times of their starting volume for up to 19-13 mm. The company said in an answer to a frequently asked question that the beads are a choking hazard.

The company said that the beads can pass through children's digestive systems without any difficulties and are not absorbed by the body. Still, parents are urged to promptly seek medical attention should their children swallow the beads. The beads should not be handled by children under three years old.

Dr. Gary Smith, the president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance was quoted by a Reuters report as saying that he believes that children under the age of six should not be playing with expandable bead toys. For their part, authors Mudd and Dr. Megan Sterling were quoted in the report as saying that people with foreign objects stuck in their ears should be told to keep their ears dry and seek an ENT.

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