Birmingham law firm Russell Jones and Walker has issued a warning over the health risks posed by children's toys.

The firm, known for its expertise in personal injury cases, said 2007 had seen a huge amount of concern over toy safety.

Indeed some of those Christmas presents and New Year sales bargains could still hide hidden dangers.

Although counterfeit items were predictably the source of many risks, RJ&W said most of the issues recently had concerned respected name brands.

Richard Langton, personal injury partner in Birmingham, said: "The public health issue is enormous.

"Some toys have been found to be unsafe due to loose parts that could be harmful if swallowed - in particular magnets. Others have excess lead levels. Lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioural and learning problems, slower growth, hearing impairment and migraine. Blood tests can detect excess lead levels."

Russell Jones and Walker said that under UK law consumers had a right to compensation under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 if they, or a member of their family, is injured by a toy.

To avoid that fate the firm suggested:

* If a product doesn't have a CE mark then trading standards recommends you don't buy it.

* The packaging should give the address of the manufacturer.

* Buy from permanent shops whom you can sue if there is a problem. They will be insured.

* There should be clear instructions and an age limit.

The CE mark on toys shows the manufacturer has agreed the product meets the essential European Union safety requirements.

However, this system is not infallible. RJ&W advises that if in doubt check which toys have been recalled by visiting

The firm employs over 360 staff with offices in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Wakefield, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff and Edinburgh.