Walmart Responds to Rumors That There's Lead in These Popular Kids' Shoes

jelly sandals lead
Kelly Pruitt/Facebook

It's one of every parent's greatest fears: You buy your kid something fun and seemingly harmless at the store, only to find out later that what you purchased actually poses a major health and safety risk to your child. It's exactly that worry that's currently fueling rampant rumors that jelly sandals from Walmart are exposing children to dangerous levels of lead. But, before you toss your kid's favorite shoes out with yesterday's mac and cheese, there are a few things parents should know about these scary-sounding claims.

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In a mega-viral post on Facebook, Kelly Pruit says her granddaughter was wearing a brand-new pair of jelly sandals last week, when the little girl went to a routine checkup at the doctor and they found her blood tests showed dangerously high levels of lead in her system.

"The nurse came back in and she said ... her lead levels are really high (Above 60 ... normal is below 3.3)," writes Pruitt. "[The nurse] said, 'by the way, is she wearing Jelly shoes from Wal-Mart?' I looked at the nurse a second, thinking that's a weird question. Then I said, 'yes, why?' She said Google it."

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So, Google it we did. And we found that Pruitt is not the only concerned caretaker making these claims about Walmart's jellies. According to a Facebook post that Snopes found, a mom made similar claims on social media in June, stating that not only did her daughter have high levels of lead in her system after wearing a pair of newly purchased jelly sandals, but also that an at-home lead test from Lowe's came back positive when she tried it on the sandals.

Just a few weeks prior to that, yet another parent, Kayla Webb, claimed her daughter was exposed to lead via several pairs of Walmart jelly sandals.


Kayla Webb/Facebook

According to Webb, her doctor told her that kids can have elevated levels of lead in their blood if a nurse uses rubbing alcohol to sanitize a child's skin prior to a shot and doesn't let it dry all the way. But, she adds, "He looked up the Walmart jelly shoe thing online and told me if it was HIS kid he would probably still toss the shoes."

So, what's going on? Are these adorable, retro shoes really just toxic ticking time bombs in disguise?

In a statement to Cafemom, a Walmart spokeswoman tells us they're aware of the viral claims, but they feel parents truly have nothing to worry about. "Walmart takes product safety seriously," the statement reads. "All products in question were tested before being placed on our shelves, and we initiated over 200 additional tests in the past month to further confirm the safety of the shoes. All tests once again have shown these shoes are safe and meet applicable standards."

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More importantly, Dr. Mary Pat Forkin, a family doctor at Westfield Premier Physicians in Westfield, Indiana, tells CafeMom it's highly unlikely that a pair of shoes could have any measurable impact on the amount of lead in a child's system. 

"Lead has to be ingested in order for exposure to occur, as opposed to going through your skin," she explains. "Lead can be in paint, dust, water, food; however, I've never heard of lead coming through your skin that would give you lead poisoning ... If the daughter's lead level was high, it might be from something she ingested or breathed in."
 
Obviously, it's always better to be safe than sorry -- especially when you're dealing with something as dangerous as lead. The toxic metal has been linked to speech delays, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and the loss of fine motor skills. And it's been found in everything from sippy cups to baby food. But, at least when it comes to your kid's jelly sandals, the evidence seems to suggest that we can all breathe a little bit easier.
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