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Swallowing Fidget Spinner Batteries, Parts Leading To Childhood Injuries: Report

Over the past year, fidget spinners have been one of the fastest growing toy fads among children and teens, but a new report suggests that batteries contained in certain products and small pieces that may break off are causing a number of childhood injuries.  

Doctors from Children’s Hospital in Colorado published a report in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition last last month, detailing two serious injuries sustained by young children who swallowed pieces of a fidget spinner. The researchers said incidents are a sign that fidget spinners need stronger label warnings.

The case studies focused on two children who swallowed button batteries from broken fidget spinners. In both cases, the children, a three-year old boy and a four- year old girl, suffered severe burns to their esophagus. The boy required a three week hospital stay due to serious complications from the injury.

Fidget spinners have three plastic arms that extend from and spin around a central bearing. They are often marketed to help reduce anxiety among youth with ADHD and autism, however, no definitive research has proven they provide any psychological benefits.

Some fidget spinners contain light emitting diodes, which run on batteries. The researchers warn that the batteries pose a particular safety risk, especially to small children who may not know the dangers.

Study authors warned some toys, like fidget spinners, have unrecognized hazard risks until safety and health data on injuries is released. This was the case several years ago with the risks posed by high powered magnet toys.

Half of the children who swallowed the magnets needed surgery, one-third suffered bowel perforations, and many will experience life-long complications. However, the safety issues were not noted before the toy was released. Once the safety data was published, new safety standards were enacted and the number of injuries reported in emergency rooms dropped.

In August, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning indicating that fidget spinners could pose a choking risk for children if they break and the child gets access to the ball bearing which allows the arms to spin. The CPSC noted there were reports of choking, and reports of batteries overheating and starting fires.

The warning did not address the potential swallowing of lithium ion batteries, which, when they come into contact with body fluids, can cause deep esophageal burns and other injuries.

Currently fidget spinners are sold without warnings. However, the report’s authors indicate they should come with a warning and increased regulation should be enacted. They also warn parents to be vigilant if they have fidget spinners in their home, and to watch to make sure children are using them safely.

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