Fidget Spinner Ingestion Led To Severe Neck Pain, Vomiting In Teen Girl: Case Report

A recent case report highlights the serious and potentially life-threatening health risks children may suffer if they ingest small pieces that may break off of popular fidget spinners, detailing the consequences faced by a teenage girl who required immediate surgical treatment after pieces became lodged in her esophagus. 

Fidget spinners are one of the most popular toy fads in recent years, but manufacturing quality varies greatly. The products have a ball-bearing in the center of a multi-lobed, flat structure, which is designed to spin along its axis. However, it is not uncommon for some fidget spinners to break into small pieces over time.

In a report published late last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), doctors described problems experienced by a girl in her late teens with a complex mental health history, including depression and eating disorders. She suffered severe neck pain and vomiting after reporting ingesting three broken pieces of a fidget spinner toy.

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According to the report, the pieces were lodged in her esophagus, requiring immediately medical intervention. Surgeons first attempted to treat the patient with glucagon to pass the objects, however one of the fidget spinner pieces failed to pass through the esophagus, requiring surgical removal.

Fidget spinners are often marketed to help reduce anxiety among youth with ADHD and autism, however, no definitive research has proven they provide any psychological benefits.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has previously released fidget spinner warnings, stating the devices may pose choking hazards for young children if the plastic and metal spinners break. The CPSC’s warning was released after an investigation was opened last year following several reported incidents involving children who suffered choking injuries.

The CPSC noted there were reports of choking, and reports of batteries overheating and starting fires.

Parents and caregivers are being warned to be cautious when allowing children, and especially those under the age of five, to use fidget spinners. Much like other small toys, young children may have a tendency to put the spinners, or their small broken pieces into their mouth, posing a choking and suffocation hazard.

The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition published a different case report last month focusing on fidget spinner injuries sustained by a three year old boy and a four year old girl, who suffered severe burns to their esophagus after swallowing button batteries that broke apart from a fidget spinner.

The study warned that fidget spinners need much stronger label warnings due to the potential adverse health consequences that can arise if broken pieces are swallowed.

In 2017, the CPSC issued a Guidance for manufacturers to follow mandatory safety standards if the products are being marketed to children. Under CPSC guidelines, manufacturers marketing fidget spinners to children under 12 years of age are required to meet standards including limits of phthalates, lead content, and the U.S. Toy Standard, ASTM F963-16.


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