Water-absorbing gel beads sold as children’s toys and used in vases and gardens are a growing problem among young children.
The non-toxic water beads are called jelly beads, water orbs, hydro orbs, polymer beads and gel beads. When the tiny hard plastic balls are placed in water, they can grow up to 200 times their size. The clear colorful beads can be dried out and reused. Because they look like candy, children may be tempted to swallow them. Children also have put them in their ears.
“These particular objects can grow bigger as they pass through the intestines, ultimately paving the way for obstruction,” said Jenifer R. Lightdale, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a pediatric gastroenterologist. The beads may not be visible on X-rays. Read more