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Doctors warn recalled toy beads still available

Doctors are warning that toy beads, recalled international last year after fears they may be coated in a dangerous chemical, are still being advertised for purchase online in the UK.

Writing in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the doctors report on the case of a seven year old girl who was admitted to their emergency department with an acute life-threatening condition after swallowing Bindeez toy beads given to her for Christmas.

The girl had a reduced level of consciousness. On arrival at the hospital, she was suffering from a dangerously slow heart rate and required cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Although initial concerns were that the girl may have choked on the beads, this was revealed not to have been the case.

Once in a stable condition, the girl told doctors that she had eaten 80 beads, thinking they were sweets, and that they had tasted of marzipan.

Toxicology tests indicated that the beads were coated in the chemical 1,4-butanediol, which when digested, is metabolised to gamma hydroxylbutyric acid (GHB), a potent sedative and anaesthetic agent.

In November last year Bindeez beads were recalled following two similar cases in Australia. However, the authors of the article in the BMJ say that the beads are still advertised on toy shop websites for UK purchase.

In November 2007, Bindeez beads were internationally recalled after two similar cases were reported in Australia. However, they are still advertised on toy shop websites for purchase in the UK, say the authors.

When they drew this to the attention of the UK distributor, it stated that it was not aware of this and would be launching a further investigation.

British Medical Journal