A new report in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology warns against the popular accessory, loom bands, as four children were treated at a Scottish hospital in one week after they allegedly inhaled rubber bands that could potentially choke them.
The tiny colourful rubber bands that can be woven to make bracelets are one of the most popular toys of this year. However, an ENT department team at the Monklands hospital in Scotland asked parents to keep a close watch on children who play with loom bands.
The report's authors said: "Although the four cases presented were resolved without the need for general anaesthetic, the ever-soaring prevalence and popularity of loom bands necessitates a degree of caution and vigilance from parents, retailers and manufacturers alike. We believe there is an urgent need for greater public awareness of their potential hazards," The Independent reports.
A surgical registrar and a report author, Dr. Iain Bohler, said that it was not uncommon for children to report at hospitals with various small objects in their noses or ears, but the medical staff has started finding loom bands only recently.
"Often foreign bodies are removed with little more than distress to the child, however, in the worst case scenario, they can lead to blocked airways, cardiorespiratory arrest and death. I would however stress with utmost sincerity, the need for parental vigilance in supervising young children playing with loom bands, or any other toy or item with small parts," Bohler said, BBC reports.
The loom bands can harm children not just when stuck up their nose or inhaled, it can also harm in other way. For instance, a Lincolnshire child developed a cataract that led to a lasting muscle damage to his left eye after his brother accidentally flicked one loom band into his eye while the two were making a bracelet.
The rainbow loom, which is a plastic device for weaving the small bands, was invented in 2011 and soon became part of the fashion world. Celebrities like Princess Kate and David Beckham have been spotted wearing such band bracelets.