1. ITV Report

Potentially poisonous dolls bought this Christmas putting children at risk

Some of the dolls being recalled from shelves over poison fears Photo: ITV News Central

There are fresh health warnings about potentially dangerous dolls on sale which have been bought as Christmas presents for young children.

Experts say the dolls contain a banned chemical which is used in some countries to soften plastics and is highly dangerous if consumed.

Examples of the 'fruit-head' dolls on sale at markets across the country Credit: Sandwell Trading Standards

Dolls with fruit shaped heads, like the ones above, and other more conventional looking toy babies, contain a substance called Phthalates.

Tests have shown the chemical can disrupt the activity of hormones, and exposure to it has been linked to cancer, deformities in unborn babies and infertility in men.

Councils seize dolls across the country

It first became clear the toys were unsafe when Sandwell Trading Standards released details of the dangers in January 2013.

More recently there have been seizures in Lincolnshire and also in Kent, with the dolls found on sale at markets in the run up to Christmas.

News of the dolls has been widely shared on social-networking sites, with hundreds of thousands of people logging on to the ITV News Central website to read about the potentially unsafe toys since Christmas.

It's led to hundreds of worried parents from all over the country contacting ITV News Central directly.

One of the worried parents was Carly Smith from Darlaston near Walsall. Her daughter Olivia-Leigh has had one of the potentially dangerous dolls for 15 months.

It has become a treasured toy to the four-year-old, and when Carly found out it could be unsafe, she said it came as a huge shock.

"I just felt sick the fact that she's had it - she goes to bed with it - she goes everywhere with it"

– Carly Smith from Darlaston near Walsall
Two dolls confirmed as potentially poisonous by Walsall Council Credit: ITV News Central

ITV News Central correspondent Keith Wilkinson took the doll to Walsall Trading Standards where they confirmed it was one they are concerned about.

"This is a toy which is in widespread circulation across the Midlands across the UK and in Europe as well. It originated from China, it does contain Phthalates which is harmful substance and if consumed it will lead to health hazards, and we're fearful that children will have a tendency to chew on toys"

– Cllr Zahid Al, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Protection at Walsall Council

The council are advising people who think they may have purchased one of the affected toys to take it back to the retailer they bought it from, and are urging any shops with them on sale to take them off the shelves, or face them being seized.

The toys have reportedly been on sale at markets up and down the country, as well as in popular holiday resorts in Spain.

Health officials warn the dolls should be taken away from children

Examples of the dolls which could cause harm to children Credit: ITV News Central

Nottingham GP Dr Ian Campbell has told ITV News Central it is unlikely that normal contact with one of the dolls would be enough to cause a significant health risk, but went on to say that it should nevertheless be avoided.

"There is no excuse for these chemicals in the use of soft plastic toys. They are known to cause cancer in animal studies.

"It is unlikely that normal usage of a child's toy would cause enough of the chemical to be absorbed to cause a problem but no amount is considered safe so we should advise avoidance."

– Dr Ian Campbell, Nottingham GP

He went on to say that nothing more could be done except for removing the toy from a child, as there are no possible tests to see if any harm has been caused.

"There is no action involved other than to remove the toy. It's not possible to test whether any damage has been done as any effect would be long term."

Anyone with further concerns over the dolls is advised to contact their local Trading Standards department, or call Citizens Advice on 08454 040506.

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