Safety of Yo-Yo Balls to Be Investigated, Says MSNBC

Spurred by an MSNBC report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched an investigation into the case of a 5-year-old boy who nearly strangled himself while playing with a <"">Yo-Yo Water Ball last month. According to MSNBC, the popular toy is responsible for injuring more than 400 children across the United States.

Earlier this week, MSNBC reported the story of 5-year-old Brayden Daher from Bellevue, Wash., who nearly died after the bungee-type cord of a Yo-Yo Ball got wrapped around his neck. “He was purple, almost blue, and his eyes were bloodshot and watering,” Brayden’s mother, Carolyn Daher, told MSNBC. “I could barely get my fingers underneath the cord to pull it. And when you do that, it pulls tighter and tighter, and it was cutting into his neck.”

Yo-Yo Balls, usually imported from China and Taiwan, sell for less than $5 and are stretchy, fluid-filled balls attached to a bungee-type cord with a finger loop. In MSNBC’s original report, Dr. Brian Johnston, head of the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, said, “It’s clear that these are inherently dangerous.” Anything with a cord longer than six inches, he told MSNBC, is considered a strangulation hazard. “One of the scary things about this is the cord material is so sticky. So once it wraps around on top of itself, it’s going to be hard for someone to unwrap it because the material is adherent to itself.”

Reports of hazards associated with the toy began surfacing in 2003, and MSNBC counts at least 410 cases of injury related to the product. In 2003, Lisa Lipin, whose son was injured by the ball, instigated a CPSC investigation, but according to MSNBC, the CPSC refused to issue a recall even after finding that there was a “low but potential risk of strangulation” and told parents who were worried about the risk to either cut the cord or dispose of the toy altogether. “I think they’re waiting for a child to die,” Lipin told MSNBC.

In 2005, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky introduced a bill in Congress to ban the sale of Yo-Yo Balls, but so far no action has been taken. The product is already banned in Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil. It’s also been banned in Illinois, after Lipin convinced her state lawmakers of the product’s acute dangers. Retail outlets including Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Walgreen’s, and even eBay refuse to sell the product.

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