Parents hitting the stores for holiday gifts this season might want to check more than their children's wish list.
"Troubled in Toyland" lists more than a dozen toys the U.S. Public Interest Research Group deems potentially dangerous.
Researchers across the country spent three months canvassing national toy stores, malls and dollar stores for the 27th annual survey of toy safety.
A toy manufacturer designs toys, and parents wrap them with children's joy and excitement in mind, said Tracy Mehan, manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
"Unfortunately, here at the hospital, we look at many of these toys differently," she said. "We have had to treat too many children with severe and life-altering injuries."
Eight of the 14 toys on the report fall can cause choking, which is the leading cause for recalls, said Tabitha Woodruff, advocate for the Ohio PIRG Education Fund.
Two toys contained toxic chemicals and three posed hazards to children's hearing because of their volume. The final toy, Snake Eggs, made the list for its strong magnets.
While these, and others on the list, don't necessarily violate any legal standards, they still pose a risk. If a child swallows two strong magnets, the pieces will "literally tear through the organs" to find each other, Mehan said.
She said magnets and button batteries are the two newest concerns. Small 3-volt lithium button batteries can become lodged in a child or adult's neck, and although they may not immediately cause someone to choke, they can burn through the esophagus within two hours.
It's impossible to test every toy, Woodruff said, so that's why it's important that parents educate themselves about potential hazards. Consumers can go to www.toysafety.mobi to look at a full list of recalled and hazardous toys, access the survey report and report unsafe toys.
"Although most toys on the market are safe, thousands of children suffer toy-related injuries every year," Mehan said. "While most of these injuries are minor, some can be severe or even fatal."
There were 17 toy-related deaths among children younger than 15 in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"Parents may trust their kids or believe that their kids are old enough to understand safety hazards in toys," Woodruff said. "You don't want to be the one parent that's caught by surprise."
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