Mattel Recalls Polly Pocket Dolls

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today announced that California-based Mattel Inc. is voluntary recalling 2.4 million units of its Polly Pocket magnetic play sets. The CPSC has received approximately 170 reports of small magnets coming loose from these toys, which were manufactured in China. In three cases, young children were hospitalized with severe injuries related to the problem.

According to the CPSC announcement, “Tiny magnets inside the dolls and accessories can fall out undetected by parents and caregivers. The magnets can be swallowed, aspirated by young children, or placed by a child in their nose or ears. When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection, or blockage, which can be fatal. Aspiration to the lungs requires immediate surgery. Magnets placed in the nose or ears can cause swelling and be difficult to remove.” All three of the aforementioned hospitalized children suffered intestinal perforations that required surgery.

The magnets in question are only an eighth of an inch in diameter and they are found in the hands and feet of the Polly Pocket dolls, as well as in a number of the doll’s accessories. The remainder of the affected play sets had been removed from store shelves in September, but the new announcement is intended for parents who’ve already purchased the products. Parents should take these toys from their children immediately. If the toys are returned, consumers will receive a voucher for a replacement product.

Coincidentally, the Washington Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) released its 21st annual toy-safety survey today in a report called Trouble in Toyland. Magnetic toys, one of the survey’s four major areas of focus, have become a chief concern among consumer advocates.

According to the report’s executive summary, “Over the last year, one child died and several others were gravely injured after swallowing tiny but powerful magnets now commonly used in magnetic building toys and magnetic jewelry. If a child swallows more than one of these magnets, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage. CPSC should adopt and enforce strong mandatory guidelines for labeling magnetic toys to ensure parents know to seek immediate medical attention if a child swallows magnets.”

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