Water Beads

Water Beads were initially used as agricultural products intended to maintain soil
moisture. Florists also use them in flower arrangements for hydration. Over time,
manufacturers began using them in diapers, incontinence garments, and feminine
hygiene products. They have become increasingly popular, mixing science with play;
the beads are now marketed to children as a toy and for those with sensory
processing and autism spectrum disorders. Tiny and brightly colored water beads
look much like candy. They contain superabsorbent polymers that can expand over
hundreds of times their original size after exposure to water. Water Beads, often sold
as toys, can cause life-threatening intestinal blockage if swallowed

An 8-month-old infant developed sudden vomiting and abdominal swelling 15 hours
after consuming a Water Bead. The infant was admitted to the hospital for
observation and then developed symptoms of an intestinal blockage over the next
two days. She underwent an operation to remove the superabsorbent polymer bead
lodged in her intestine. Fortunately, she recovered fully and returned home. In
another case, a six-month-old swallowed a polymer bead given to him by his
neighbor; he also developed an intestinal blockage after ingesting just “one” bead.
He, too, underwent surgery but later developed an infection and, unfortunately, did
not survive. These beads can cause toxicity blockages and are a choking hazard,
especially for those under three years old.

Prevention Tips
➢ Avoid water beads in children younger than three years. Do not allow
children to play with water beads unsupervised.
➢ Store water beads in a secure location where children and pets cannot
easily access them.
➢ Do not swallow water beads or put them in your nose, ears, or other body


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