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Fisher-Price Toy Recall: What to Do

Nearly 1 Million Fisher-Price Toys Recalled Because of Lead Paint
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 2, 2007 -- Kids are in no immediate danger from the lead-painted Fisher-Price toys recalled today, health experts say. But it is vitally important to get rid of the toys right away.

The recall affects nearly a million Fisher-Price toys sold for $5 to $40 across the U.S. from May to August 2007. The toys included popular Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer characters. All of the toys were made in China.

Prolonged mouthing of the toys, for hours at a time over several days, could give kids a significant lead exposure. Chewing the toys could increase the exposure. Simply touching the toys is not a problem, as lead cannot be absorbed through the skin.

If parents don't get rid of the toys, the problem increases as the paint on the toys ages and comes off more easily. Do not burn the toys, as lead fumes can be inhaled.

"Parents need to know it is not an acute problem if a kid just touches and plays with one of these toys," John Benitez, MD, director of the Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Rochester, N.Y., tells WebMD. "But if a child sits and chews on the toy for weeks and months and absorbs the lead from the paint, that becomes a risk."

That is also the opinion of Robert J. Geller, MD, medical director of the Georgia Poison Center, chief of pediatrics at Atlanta's Grady Health System, and associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.

"If the child is playing with the toy, not chewing on it or sucking on it, it is not a danger," Geller tells WebMD. "The risk is the paint being eaten in some way, or creating dust from the toy as from sanding it. Just scraping the toy along the sidewalk is not an issue."

Lead poisoning occurs when toxic levels of lead build up in the body. Because the body is slow to get rid of lead, the poisonous metal can build up in the body with repeated exposures over time.

"For most American children, their lead level is far below the level that causes rapid onset of symptoms," Geller says. "The average American child's lead blood level is a 2 or a 3, and the level of acute effects is around 50."

Geller and Benitez say children who ingest dangerous levels of lead don't usually show symptoms right away. Over time, a child with high lead levels may complain of tiredness and bellyache. Eventually, school performance declines.

Parents worried about whether their child has a high lead level can get a simple, inexpensive blood test from their pediatrician. Test results usually come back within two days, Geller says.

"The reason for concern is there is no good level of lead in the body," Geller says. "Over the long term, persisting lead levels contribute to worse school performance. So we want to eliminate all the sources of lead exposure we can."

Parents should act immediately to return the toys. Fisher-Price is offering a voucher for a safe replacement toy of the same value.

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