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‘Trouble in Toyland:' Advocacy Group Raises Concerns About Some Toys

Officials are warning parents to look out for things like choking hazards, loud noises and toxic materials that could be in some toys.

With the holiday season kicking off this week, one local hospital is warning shoppers to think of safety first when shopping for little ones.

Choking hazards, loud noises, and potentially toxic materials are some of the things officials warned parents about at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center on Monday.

“We want to make sure that we raise that awareness and not just have parents focus on what they think will make their kids happy but what will make their kids safe and happy,” said Dr. Steven Rogers, a doctor at Connecticut Children’s Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

Rogers said the holiday season is when he sees the most patients with toy-related injuries at the emergency room.

“Kids are getting new toys and so they’re playing with them and so the hazard of certain types of toys is going to be increased this time of year,” he explained.

Rogers said every three minutes in the U.S., a child visits an emergency room for a toy-related injury.

The Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (ConnPIRG) released its annual “Trouble in Toyland” report on Monday outlining the biggest toy hazards for kids this season.

“One of the biggest ones is choking hazards,” explained the group’s Petra Favorite.

If a toy or part of a toy fits through a toilet paper roll, Favorite said a child can choke on it-- especially those 3 years and under.

Favorite said other concerns include strong magnets for young kids, and toxics like lead, cadmium and even high levels of boron in popular toys like slimes.

Toys that make loud noises can also hurt a child’s developing hearing.

“The goal ultimately is just to make sure that toys are safe for children so we also want to be calling on manufacturers to make sure that the toys are safe before they’re ending up in children’s hands,” Favorite told NBC Connecticut.

The Toy Association responded to the report Monday saying in part that it “doesn’t tell you that toys continue to be one of the safest consumer product categories found in the home,” and adding that the, “U.S. toy safety requirements include more than 100 standards and tests to ensure that toys are safe.”

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This year’s research from ConnPIRG also warns parents about the potential cybersecurity hazards of “smart toys.”

“If you can talk to a toy, beware. There is no telling where that voice is going, what is being done with the information,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who also spoke at the Connecticut Children’s presentation on Monday.

ConnPIRG is asking parents to watch out for toys like dolls, kid’s tablets, and other interactive products this holiday season.

When it comes to these toys, the group recommends you pay close attention to the privacy settings, make sure only to use them over a secure network or completely offline, and be aware of the personal information you or your child enters or shares with the product

If you’re doing your holiday shopping online this year ConnPIRG is also reminding you to check toy packaging when you receive them in the mail, because age ratings and safety labels shown on websites may not match the labels on the toys.

For a full list of safety tips and recalled toys you can visit toysafetytips.org.

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