Not Magic but a Choking Hazard: Expanding Gel Balls Could Harm Your Kid, Doctors Say

Water Balz
Image Dunecraft Inc.

Doctors, who operated on an 8-month-old Texas-girl after she swallowed a ball, have warned parents about the dangers of a new kind of toy that expands when put in water, according to media reports.

The toy, a gel ball called Water Balz by Ohio-based DuneCraft Inc, expands up to 400 times its original size when put in water. The girl from Texas, named Aunraya, was admitted to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston after her parents suspected that she had swallowed one of her sibling's Water Balz.

An x-ray taken at the hospital showed that there was something blocking the intestines, but doctors couldn't see the cause of the blockage. When the doctors operated on the little girl, they found a Water Balz nearly one and half an inch wide.

"There is a tendency to wait and wait. We were fortunate enough that we did [surgery] early enough. If the treatment is delayed, there could be perforation with peritonitis ( a life threatening condition)," said Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, pediatric surgeon at Texas Children's Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, ABC News reports.

The girl is out of danger now, the doctors said. Olutoye and colleagues have published a case report in the journal Pediatrics.

"We are trying to sound the alarm as the prevalence of the balls is increasing. While they are fun and make good science projects, [they] can have disastrous consequence when ingested," said Olutoye to ABC News.

Toys not made for small children

"[These toys are] obviously not for an 8-month-old," said Grant Cleveland, CEO of DuneCraft, Inc.,"You wouldn't let your 8-month-old near [loose] change or marbles. Even Legos are dangerous to an 8-month-old," ABC News reports.

"An eight-month-old has no business being near that product. Trying to turn it into a public risk is absurd," Cleveland told Reuters Health.

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