Loom bands, the popular child accessory, could pose a serious risk of suffocation, a medical journal reports after four children are treated in hospital.
The popular kid's accessory loom bands can pose a serious risk to youngsters, a report warns after four children with the rubber bands stuck in places they weren't supposed to be were treated in a Scottish hospital in just one week.
Loom bands - tiny loops of elastic in different colours that can be linked together to create low-cost jewellery such as necklaces and bracelets - have become something of a craze, with even the Duchess of Cambridge and pop star Harry Styles seen wearing them.
But a report, entitled Loom bands and young children - a tragedy waiting to happen?, in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology called for urgent awareness of the dangers they pose.
Ear, Nose and Throat Department staff at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, Scotland, warned that the bands could be inhaled if they got stuck in a child's nose, and obstruct the airway.
"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," the paper's authors said.
"We believe there is an urgent need for greater public awareness of their potential hazards."
In August, one of the country's leading toy stores, The Entertainer, removed loom band charms from its shelves after they were found to contain potentially harmful chemicals, known as phthalates, which can disrupt hormones in children.
The chemicals, which are used to soften plastics, have been banned in toys on sale in the European Union for several years.
Manchester-based RMS International, which supplied the charms to The Entertainer, said the incident involved only a number of PVC loom charms, adding that loom bands are "entirely safe".