Baby swallows water bead, ends up in ICU

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 10:23 AM CST
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - A mother in Maine is urgently sounding the alarm as her infant daughter is fighting for her life in the pediatric ICU.

Folichia Mitchell said her 9-month-old baby swallowed a water bead, which grows when put in water. That’s what it did in the infant’s body.

“She went two days without eating anything,” Mitchell said. “By the time we made it to Portland Hospital, she was not off the stretcher before she started vomiting bile.”

The mother is asking the manufacturer to give a better warning.

“I’m just scared every single second right now,” Mitchell said.

The cause of the problem was a bead about the size of a small pebble. The child swallowed one of the Ultimate Water Beads made by Chuckle & Roar, a brand sold at Target.

The beads vary in size and grow when placed in water, with the product’s jumbo beads growing to up to a half inch.

“The bead blocked her small intestine, which made it swell so large it leaked into her body, and that caused sepsis and an infection,” the mother said. “She’s had three surgeries this week. Her lungs were struggling, her heart was struggling and her kidneys were struggling.”

The box and the instructions for the beads contain warnings about a potential choking hazard, but neither warn of the potential consequences of what happens if they are ingested.

Mitchell wanted to sound the alarm 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, because if I had seen how ‘toxic if ingested, can cause blockage,’ I never would have bought them and brought them into my house,” she said.

For now, all she can do is wait and pray for her daughter’s life.

“I just really hope people can think about my daughter in a positive way or pray for her so that she could make it through,” Mitchell said.

Chuckle & Roar did not respond to request for comment by Monday. In a statement, a Target spokesperson says the company has engaged with Chuckle & Roar about the situation.