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Report: China halts export of bead toys tainted with toxic drug

  • Story Highlights
  • State-run news agency: China orders an investigation by quality control agencies
  • Children who swallow the beads can become comatose or have seizures
  • Toys are sold as Aqua Dots in the U.S., as Bindeez Beads in Australia
  • Three children were hospitalized in Australia after swallowing large quantities
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(CNN) -- China has suspended exports of the Aqua Dots toys contaminated with a chemical that can convert to a powerful "date rape" drug, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday. The toys have caused some children who swallowed the craft toys to vomit and lose consciousness.

The agency said that the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has ordered an investigation by quality control agencies and will release results as soon as they are available.

The AQSIQ did not reveal the name of the toys' producer, Xinhua said.

U.S. safety officials voluntarily recalled about 4.2 million of the Chinese-made toys Wednesday.

Scientists have found the highly popular holiday toy contains a chemical that, once metabolized, converts into the toxic "date rape" drug GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate), Scott Wolfson, a spokesman with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), told CNN.

"Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression or have seizures," a CPSC statement warned.

The arts-and-craft beads, which have been selling since April at major U.S. retail stores under the name "Aqua Dots," have also been distributed in Australia under the name "Bindeez Beads."

The Bindeez toys were recalled Tuesday by Melbourne-based Moose Enterprise Pty. Ltd. after three children in Australia swallowed large quantities of the beads and were hospitalized.

"I was so frightened because I thought she wasn't going to make it," Heather Lehane told CNN affiliate Network 7 of her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who was hospitalized in Australia after ingesting some of the beads.

In the United States, the Washington-based safety commission said it has in recent days received two reports detailing the severe effects of the digested beads, which are part of a craft kit aimed at kids 4 years and older.

The CPSC said a boy nearly 2 years old "swallowed several dozen beads. He became dizzy and vomited several times before slipping into a comatose state for a period of time."

The commission said the toddler was hospitalized and has since "fully recovered."

The second incident involved a child who vomited, fell into a coma and was hospitalized for five days. It was not immediately clear whether the child had made a full recovery.

Toronto-based toy distributor Spin Master Ltd. stopped shipping the Aqua Dots toys and asked retailers to pull them off their shelves, where they were previously sold for $17 to $30.

Anyone with Aqua Dots at home should return the product to the company, CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said.

The toy had been named toy of the year in Australia and recently crested Wal-Mart's list of top 12 Christmas toys.

Wal-Mart on Thursday listed the toys on its Web site as "out of stock online" and had removed them from their top toy list as well.

This latest recall is part of a larger batch of recalls of Chinese-made toys that have swept across the country.

Last month alone, U.S. government safety officials and retailers voluntarily recalled at least 69,000 Chinese-made toys over concerns of excessive amounts of lead paint, which can cause hazardous lead poisoning. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Janine Brady, Jason Carroll, Laura Dolan, Julie O'Neill and Leslie Wiggins contributed to this report.

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