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Mother says daughter hospitalized for weeks after ingesting water bead toy

National Poison Control Center says while they are non-toxic, the beads can expand in the intestinal tract.
Water beads
Posted at 1:04 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 16:08:32-05

A mother is warning others about the dangers of water bead toys after her 10-month-old daughter was hospitalized for weeks after swallowing one.

Folichia Mitchell of Berwick of Maine bought a water beads activity kit at a Target store, Good Morning America reported, as a toy for her 8-year-old son. She believed he would benefit from playing with it, as he learns while on the autism spectrum.

"From reading the package, I saw they're good for sensory so I thought he'd really love them," Mitchell said. He thought they were really fun."

She said she set her son up with the toy on a table, away from her other younger children and didn't see any dangers.

Days later, she said her daughter Kennedy started vomiting and became lethargic before she took her to the hospital, believing it was a reaction to food.

Her daughter was transported by ambulance to a larger children's hospital where medical staff determined she had ingested a water bead.

In shock, Michell said, "We never saw her near them. Never saw her have one in her hand. Never saw her pick one up from the floor."

"I was not worried about that at all. That never had crossed my mind the whole time that she was not feeling well and deteriorating," she said, according to ABC News.

While doctors were able to perform a surgery to remove the water bead from Kennedy's body, damage to her intestines had been done. She underwent four more surgeries after multiple infections caused by an intestinal blockage, Mitchell said.

The National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) says while water beads are considered "non-toxic" they can cause life-threatening intestinal damage because they absorb fluid and expand in the intestinal tract.

Most super absorbent polymers are synthetic, while some are natural, and they can contain petroleum products, polyacrylate and other acrylics the center says.

NCPC says a 6-month-old boy also suffered damage to his bowels after swallowing a single "super absorbent" water bead (or polymer bead).