Teddy bears, furry toys dangerous to children, paediatrician warns

Use Teddies

A Consultant Paediatrician, Dr. Abdurrazzaq Alege, has cautioned parents against buying furry toys and teddy bears for their children, noting that they can cause serious health problems and even death for babies, especially infants.

According to the child health expert, babies exposed to fur are at risk of developing allergies, cough, suffocation, diarrhoea, and in some instances asthma.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Alege who works with the Nephrology Division, Federal Medical Centre, Katsina State, stated that while toys are good for children, mothers should consider keeping furry toys away from babies because of the negative health problems they can cause. He urged mothers to consider plastic toys as alternative to teddy bears.

 He noted that important factors to consider before buying furry toys for children should include the size of the teddy bear when compared to the age and size of the child, the type of fur used in making it, and how clean the bear is.

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He said, “Size is very important because if you have an infant, that is a child less than one year, playing with a big teddy bear is dangerous. The teddy can suffocate the child.

“As regards type, if it is the one whose fur falls off easily, probably as a result of expiry or the fact that the kind of fur used is not of good quality and has particles falling off, so many things can happen.”

According to him, certain allergies are genetic, and even if the parents are unaware of their allergies, it does not mean the child cannot express worse forms of such allergies.

The expert added, “If you have a child that has an intrinsic problem in terms of allergy if the parents are not careful and they are unaware of the kind of allergic responses of the child, that child may react to some of these particles that could enter the airway.

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“The child will have respiratory difficulties or would start to cough or would have symptoms that would appear like they are having asthma. It is just because of the wool.”

 Alege said if a teddy bear is not taken care of, dust is likely to gather on it, which can trigger an allergic reaction in a child.

 He said, “Dust can be a health problem in so many ways. It can cause an allergic reaction in terms of entering the airway.

“At the same time, if you have a toy that is not regularly cleaned, children at that age put everything in their mouth, they kiss and bite it. And in doing this, if the toy is dirty, it will harbour harmful organisms, bacteria, viruses, fungi and can cause so many illnesses in the child.”

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