How safe are children's toys?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced the recall of more than 10 million toys made by Fisher-Price®, including approximately 7 million Trikes and Tough Trikes toddler tricycles, 950,000 Healthy Care, Easy Clean, and Close to Me High Chairs, and around 100,000 Little People Wheelies and Stand 'n Play Rampways. In addition, approximately 2.8 million infant toys featuring inflatable balls, including Baby Playzone Crawl and Cruise Playground and Baby Gymtastics Play Wall, have been recalled. The complete list, including pictures and descriptions of the products, can be found at the CPSC website.

The massive recall is being done in cooperation with the manufacturer.

The odds that a child will die due to an accident involving toys in a year are relatively low: just 1 in 2,755,000 for children younger than 15, thanks in part to years of stringent standards imposed by the Child Safety Protection Act of 1994. The odds a child will end up in the ER in a year for a toy-related accident, however, are much higher at 1 in 337.7.

Many products produced for children pose a choking hazard-the concern which prompted the CPSC to recall the infant toys in this case. A 2002 report by the CDC looked at all the reported choking episodes in children from the prior year and found that for every choking death, there were 100 visits to emergency rooms for choking-related situations-a total of 17,537 children under the age of 15 treated for a choking episode. The majority of the 160 who died had ingested a nonfood object. A 2007 report by the CPSC named riding toys and small toy balls as the most common culprits in toy-related deaths.

In 2007 over 231 products manufactured for children were recalled, including 30 million toys. The reasons included excessive lead paint, harmful noise levels, magnets which could be ingested, and choking and strangulation hazards.

"The Year of the Recall," as it was dubbed, prompted Congress to enact even stronger legislation. The 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act lowered the amount of lead that can be in children's products, banned substances considered toxic, and requires toys to be tested before they reach the market. It is considered to set one of the toughest standards in the world for toy safety.

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