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Toy recall: children became unconscious after swallowing beads

Recalled Aqua DotsRecalled Aqua Dots

A woman whose toddler son ingested a popular toy that contains a chemical that turns into a powerful "date rape" drug when eaten said Thursday she knew he was ill when he began to stumble, seemed drunk and started vomiting.

The mother, Shelby Esses, said her 20-month-old son Jacob, fell down and was limp after getting into his older sister's Aqua Dots, a Chinese-made toy recalled Wednesday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"And that's when we knew what he had eaten and that things were pretty bad, " she told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Aqua Dots, a highly popular holiday toy sold by Australia-based Moose Enterprises, are beads that can be arranged into designs and fused when sprayed with water. The toy was pulled from shelves in North American and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a dangerous drug when eaten. Two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

Scientists say a chemical coating on the beads, when ingested, metabolizes into the so-called date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound made from common and easily available ingredients can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Dr. Matt Jaeger, of Arkansas Children's Hospital, treated Jacob and said he was very worried when he saw him.

"It was pretty dramatic, " he told ABC. "He was unconscious in this coma for about six hours. And then over the course of just a few minutes, went from being completely asleep to wide awake and playing like nothing ever happened."

Meanwhile, versions of the toy seized in Hong Kong were being tested Thursday, a customs official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of policy. If the tests come back positive for the chemical, suppliers of the toy in Hong Kong could face a year in jail and fines of $12, 877, she said.

A spokeswoman for the CPSC said Thursday that parents should heed the warning against using the product.

"If a child ingests them the glue turns into a toxic substance and it's very serious, " Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the CPSC, said on CBS' "Early Show." ''We want parents very much to heed this warning."

Vallese said two U.S. children had gone into "unresponsive, comatose" conditions from the Aqua Dots and "those children have since recovered."

In Australia, the toys were ordered off store shelves on Tuesday when officials learned that a 2-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were hospitalized after swallowing the beads. A 19-month-old toddler also was being treated.

Problems in China's toy industry came into focus earlier this year when Mattel Inc. recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys worldwide. Products including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars were pulled off shelves because of concerns about lead paint or tiny detachable magnets that could be swallowed.

The latest toys under scrutiny are called Aqua Dots in the United States and Bindeez in Australia, where they were named toy of the year at an industry function.

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