ORMOND BEACH, Fla. — A product 9 Investigates first warned you about in December has now been recalled, but a local mother says it’s not enough.
We told you about the Chuckle and Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kit, sold at Target stores, being recalled following the death of an infant who swallowed one of the beads.
The beads can grow in size and cause intestinal and airway blockages.
9 Investigates told you back in December 2022 when that same thing happened to an Ormond Beach toddler. Investigative Reporter Karla Ray followed up with his mom who has made it her mission to get more of these kits pulled from store shelves.
In just a few weeks, Henry Gent, of Ormond Beach, will celebrate his second birthday. The milestone means even more after he nearly died last fall.
“He was special anyway, but even more so now,” his mother, Sara Gent, said. “We’re all so grateful, and not everybody had the same outcome as we did.”
When we first met little Henry, he was still recovering after he accidentally swallowed a few of the tiny water beads that his older sister had as a toy. As small as a sprinkle to start, they continued to absorb liquid inside his body and grew so big they blocked his intestine.
Sara has since shared his story with the Consumer Product Safety Commission; part of a growing group of parents petitioning for the products to be pulled from store shelves and websites.
“He became so lethargic, he didn’t even open his eyes when he threw up his first water bead. I saw it and my heart sank to my feet. I knew what it was right away,” Gent told Commissioners in May, as the CPSC worked to develop its agenda for the upcoming year.
The efforts of Gent and other parents are starting to pay off. The Commission announced a manufacturer recall of the Chuckle and Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits earlier this month.
Gent says it’s the same brand she had in her home, but a different kit.
“We know it’s an uphill battle, and we’re really grateful that there is a step in the right direction,” Gent said. “But it’s hard when you see babies going through the same thing that your son did, and companies just aren’t stopping, and they have the capability to stop it, and they’re not. It is frustrating, it really is.”
Target told us they removed the product from stores in November 2022, and they extend their deepest sympathies to the families affected by these tragic incidents.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that no one with children under the age of three should have any type of water bead in their homes due to the risks, and the agency believes that between 2016 and 2022, 7,800 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to water bead injuries.
Commissioners promised Gent and other moms that they will be taking a hard look at water bead products in the next year.
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