Sunday, June 27, 2010


Toys are here to stay when it comes to "pleasing" one's kids and keep them away from troubles. Also many toys can be educational medium, though not of any deliberate design, to evoke curiosity amongst children. Especially in many urban settings toys in the form of animals and other real life models provide the first glimpse to children at early stages about the diversity of the universe. Of course with the electronic media and visual images available on the television channels, children can get a much better appreciation of real life situations. Still toys provide companionship and a sense of comfort when they are "owned" by the kids. While safe toys posing no risk to the health or life of the children are the imperative objective of the toy industry, there are have been many instances of children coming harms way through unsafe toys. Battery cells, especially the button type, used to power many electrical and electronic toys, pose the greatest danger, if parental caution is not exercised or insufficient overseeing by adults.

"There has been an increase in the use of "button" style lithium cell batteries in recent years, which are used in manyhousehold productions including remote controls, flashlights, watches, hearing aids, cameras, children's toys and books, and musical greeting cards. There has also been a significant increase in the number of battery ingestions, particularly among children. New research published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics has found that between 1985 and 2009, there has been a 6.7-fold increase in the percentage of battery ingestions, including 13 deaths involving button batteries that become lodged in the esophagus. Certain battery types, especially the 20-millimeter lithium cell battery, can also cause serious injury if not promptly removed, such as tissue tears, burning, and internal bleeding, because they continue to generate an external current, even when weakened. Toby Litovitz, MD, from the National Capital Poison Center and department of emergency medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, analyzed data from three sources: The National Poison Data System, the National Battery Ingestion Hotline, and the medical literature. Age was a significant predictor of severity of complications. Children younger than 6 years old were involved in 62.5% of the button cell ingestions and 85% of the major effects occurred in children younger than 4.Litovitz also looked at how children and adults obtained the batteries and found that ingested batteries were removed directly from the household products about 62% of the time. The batteries were loose 29% of the time. More than 37% of the 20-millimeter lithium batteries ingested came from remote controls. Children are not the only ones affected. About 36% of the ingested batteries were from hearing aids. In older adults, the batteries were mistaken for pills'".

If sociologists can find fault with foods from the industry for their potential to be choking hazards, toys present much more risk, especially in the form of button cells and small AAA batteries. Of course the toy industry cannot be blamed entirely because these cells are embedded inside the toy body and cannot be removed easily with out adult help. In spite of such built in safety features parents will be better off by restricting access to electronic toys to the duration only during the periods when they can effectively supervise and rest of the time such toys could be stowed away beyond the reach of children. World is going through turbulent times with increasing dangers lurking around from different quarters and button cells should not add to the existing threat perceptions.


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