Water beads can expand and cause injuries to children
Water beads (a.k.a. jelly beads, gel beads, water pearls, water orbs, etc.) are small, colorful spherical objects that are abundantly water absorbent. They were originally utilized in agricultural products to maintain soil moisture. Florists use them to keep floral arrangements hydrated, and they are employed as a decorative touch to gardens and vases. 

Why are Water Orbs so Dangerours?

Water beads are also marketed as children’s toys, therapies for kids with sensory processing or autism spectrum disorders, and components for art projects. Water beads can cause injuries to children because of water beads’ candy-like appearance, young children have placed them in their mouths and swallowed them, sometimes choking on them. 

But those aren’t the only hazards posed by water beads. Water beads swell up to 400 times their original size as they gather moisture while making their way through the digestive system (think marble to tennis ball size). Resultant bowel obstructions, tears, and ruptures can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a bowel obstruction include lack of appetite, intense stomach pain, and vomiting.

In addition, kids have stuck water beads in their ears, with bead expansion leading to irreparable inner ear damage and permanent hearing loss. Water beads are labeled as nontoxic; however, upon ingestion, a few kids have suffered brain injuries due to the toxic chemical acrylamide found in some brands. 

Here is a list of the risks water beads pose to children:

  • Ingestion: Young children may mistake the beads for candy and swallow them, causing potential blockages or suffocation.
  • Choking: If a child accidentally inhales a bead, it can become lodged in their airway and cause breathing difficulties.
  • Slipping and falling: The beads can become slippery when wet, increasing the risk of slips and falls.
  • Chemical exposure: Some beads may be made with harmful chemicals or dyes that could cause harm if ingested or come in contact with skin.

Even under close supervision, a child may ingest a water bead unnoticed; it only takes a split-second. Symptoms might take hours before becoming evident, and a medical practitioner may find it challenging to determine the source of a child’s pain and discomfort. It’s critical that water beads be kept out of the reach of young children. If your child suffers harm from water beads, contact our office for thoughtful, knowledgeable guidance on the matter.

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