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Make Safe Toys Your Holiday Priority
Date:12/20/2007

Many toys aren't a good fit, particularly for younger children

THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Holiday toys are supposed to surprise and delight. But this year, toys are threatening to cause more worry than joy.

Millions of toys made in China have been recalled in recent months by toy companies, many because they were decorated with lead paint. The recalls involve popular brands, including Hot Wheels, Barbie, and Thomas the Tank Engine, among others.

The recalls have also pushed toy safety to the forefront of consumers' consciousness.

"We are hoping the unprecedented news attention will remind parents to make wise toy choices," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for U.S. PIRG, a national consumer advocacy group. "There's nothing new about what happened here, except it was on the front page."

An estimated 202,300 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2005, and there were 20 deaths. Nine of the deaths involved choking or asphyxiation, and the toys included six small balls, a balloon, a bead from a toy horse figurine, and a toy dart, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.

Lead paint is a more insidious hazard to children, because its toxic effects usually aren't immediate. Prolonged exposure can affect a child's mental and physical development, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There is no safe dose," Mierzwinski said. "Continued exposure makes it worse. Parents must get the lead out of their child's environment."

To keep up with toy recalls, whether due to lead content or other safety problems, parents should frequent the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Web site at www.recalls.gov.

Parents should also be careful with any toy, new or old, said Christine Bradley, safety program manager for Prevent Blindness America. "Just because something's new to the market doesn't make it ne
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