November 1990

Childhood Deaths From Toy Balloons

Author Affiliations

From the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (Dr Ryan), University of Alberta (Canada) Hospitals, Edmonton; the Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton (Drs Ryan and Patton); The Edmonton Board of Health (Drs Yacoub and Paton); and The Canadian Institute of Child Health, Ottawa, Ontario (Dr Avard).

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(11):1221-1224. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150350053023

• We describe four children who died of suffocation by rubber balloons in Canada between 1983 and 1988. In the United States, at least 121 children have died in a similar manner in the 15 years between 1973 and 1988 according to a report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although the highest mortality occurred among infants, 30(25%) of the 121 deaths occurred in children 6 years of age or older. Balloons account for 43% of the approximately 15 childhood deaths related to children's products that are documented each year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Toy rubber balloons are thus the leading cause of pediatric choking deaths from children's products. Preventive efforts should be directed toward a ban on this type of balloon and the development of safer alternatives. Meanwhile, public information campaigns should alert parents, physicians, and policymakers to the dangers of toy rubber balloons.

(AJDC. 1990;144:1221-1224)