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[December 2021]

Prevent infants from swallowing resin balls which swell in water!

In June 2021, the Doctor Mailbox* on NCAC's website received a report that an infant accidentally swallowed a resin ball which swell in water (toy made of superabsorbent polymer) and suffered from intestinal obstruction. The infant went through abdominal surgery. Furthermore, in October and December 2021, similar accidents were reported from doctors in different regions.

In 2015, NCAC issued an alert on accidental swallowing of decorative resin balls which swell in water after an infant swallowed it by mistake and suffered from intestinal obstruction. Similar accidents occurred even after that. Therefore, NCAC decided to issue a consumer alert again on this issue.

  1. * NCAC has a webpage called "Doctor Mailbox" to catch information directly from doctors about accidental injuries caused by products or services, which will be used to help prevent similar incidents.

Cases received by Doctor Mailbox

[Case 1]

A baby might have ingested a water absorbing ball made of resin. When seen in hospital he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction. The doctor suspected it was caused by swallowing the ball. The baby underwent abdominal surgery.

[Case 2]

A baby had a recurrent fever and cough. On the next day, he vomited and his appetite decreased. Day after next, he still coughed and got hospitalized. It was found that his intestinal tract was dilated and the end of small intestine looked abnormal. It was suspected that he had an intestinal obstruction there. He underwent emergency surgery and a foreign object was removed from his small intestine.

[Case 3]

One or two hours after playing with a water absorbing ball made of resin, a baby started to vomit. He was seen at an emergency room, but he had symptoms of vomiting lasting four days. When he was seen at the emergency room next time, a few swollen balls were found in his intestinal tract. Five days after accidental swallowing, he underwent abdominal surgery and the foreign objects were removed.

Advice for consumers

  • In case of accidental swallowing of a water absorbing resin product, it may be swollen in the digestive tract and may cause intestinal obstruction. When using such resin products, children should be supervised by carers. Water absorbing resin products should be stored out of reach of children.
  • When you have noticed or suspected that a child accidentally swallowed a water absorbing resin product, take the child to hospital immediately.
  • If there's any child younger than the recommended ages for water absorbing products in your home, consider to refrain from buying the products.