Icky toys

The Pediatric Insider

© 2010 Roy Benaroch, MD

Look around my waiting rooms: not a toy in sight, unless parents bring ‘em themselves. You can bet shared toys in preschool rooms and day cares are covered with a sticky sheen of snot—and the toys in a pediatrician’s office have the added bonus of being handled by kids who are sick. Mmmmm mmmmm good!

Researchers published a somewhat-nauseating study in February (summarized here) examining swabs from toys in pediatricians’ offices. About 30% of the toys had disease-causing viral particles; even after disinfection with commercial wipes, about 20% were still loaded with germs. In fact, some of the toys that were “clean” prior to their rubdown with disinfectants actually had more germs after they were sanitized.

Toys handled by sick kids get icky and germy, and are very hard to clean well. Bring your own toys along next time you visit the doctor’s office—or you might have a worse infection on your way out than on your way in!

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3 Comments on “Icky toys”

  1. Beth Olsson Says:

    I have *always* appreciated that about your office! I’m no MD, but it seemed only logical to keep toys out of the docs waiting room.


  2. Julie Says:

    So would the data in this study actually indicate that disinfecting wipes are completely ineffective? That’s rather disturbing….


  3. Dr. Roy Says:

    Julie, the disinfecting wipes helped some, but not as much as you’d hope.

    From the abstract: “Six (40%) of 15 toys in the sick waiting room were positive for picornaviral RNA before cleaning; after cleaning, 4 (27%) of 15 were positive in spite of the fact that RNA was removed from 4 of 6 of the original positives.”

    It’s a confusing sentence, but of the 4 that had viral particles after cleaning, only 2 had been contaminated before cleaning! So cleaning removed virus from 4 of the 6 original positive samples, but added virus to 2 toys that had been negative.


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