BERWICK, Maine -- A Maine woman is warning about the dangers of small children ingesting water beads, and is calling on a bead manufacturer to add additional warnings to its product as her infant daughter fights for her life after swallowing one.
Folichia Mitchell told WMTW her daughter needed three emergency surgeries after a bead, which grew in her body, blocked her small intestines and caused both sepsis and an infection.
"Because of the infection, the vessels in her body also swelled," Mitchell said. "So all the fluid that she's been given is leaking into her body, causing pressure to build up. Her lungs were struggling and her heart was struggling and her kidneys were struggling. She had to have a third emergency surgery to remove part of the bowel from the body to release pressure in hopes that that would help her heart and kidneys and lungs."
Mitchell's daughter swallowed a bead from the Ultimate Water Beads brand made by Chuckle and Roar, a manufacturer whose products are sold exclusively at Target. She says she bought the beads as a sensory tool for her 8-year-old son, who she says is on the Autism spectrum.
The beads vary in size and grow when placed in water. The product's "jumbo" beads grow up to a half inch, which is exactly what it did inside Mitchell's daughter's body.
"The doctors are saying that it's really just an hour-by-hour, day-by-day kind of situation, and we don't really know what the next hour will bring or if some of her levels will crash or if an organ will start being affected because of the infection," Mitchell said of her daughter's current condition.
Both the box and the instructions for the beads contain warnings about a potential choking hazard, but neither warn of the potential consequences if they are ingested by an infant. Mitchell reached out to WMTW to warn about the product so other mothers won't have to experience her pain.
"Parents don't have the chance to make an informed choice before buying," Mitchell said. "If I had seen 'toxic if ingested,' 'seek medical attention,' 'can cause blockage,' I never would have bought them and brought them into my house.
"They're not marked properly for safety, and I recommend you throw them away and you don't purchase them for your home," Mitchell said. "They're in schools and daycares too, which is super dangerous because parents aren't even there to supervise that."
WMTW has reached out to Chuckle and Roar for comment. Target provided the following statement to ABC News: "We've recently been made aware of this tragic situation and send our heartfelt sympathy to this child and her family. Target requires our vendors to comply with all product safety standards, and all state, federal and local laws. We are working with the vendor of this product to better understand the situation."
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