Balloons: A hidden danger?

According to the U.S. CSPC, a startling number of children to die after choking on a balloon.

At just the young age of 7, Ruby Ramirez is gone too soon.

The Sullivan Elementary School first grader died Tuesday at a hospital.

A preliminary autopsy report states she died of asphyxiation after a balloon lodged in her airway.

Findings too difficult for her grieving mother Maria to accept. Ruby's family members tell Action 4 News they do not believe in the autopsy.

They refuse to accept that it was a pink balloon that claimed the life of their little one.

They also said they want to know where the balloon came from, and want accountability.

Nikki Fleming of the U.S. Consumer Safety Products Commission said Ruby is part of a startling number of children to die after choking on a balloon.

"We had 13 toy related deaths in 2011 - our most recent report " three deaths were associated with balloons, Fleming said. The hazard is that uninflated balloons or even balloon pieces can seal off an air passageway"

As far as products go, the CPSC reports balloons are the number one cause of suffocation in children.

In one incident, the commission reported a child was chewing on an uniflated balloon when she fell from a swing, hit the ground and in a reflex reaction, inhaled the balloon. The girl suffocated.

According the CPSC there were three deaths in 2011, five in 2010, two in 2009 and two in 2008.

Their bright assorted colors can easily draw curious children to balloons, but the commission does not recommend balloons for children under 8 years of age, as clearly stated on most balloon packages.

A fully inflated balloon may not appear to be a danger, but if it pops, parents beware.

"If (people) have a specific occasion, a party, or something like that, and (balloons) tend to burst, Fleming said, you want to make sure you get every single piece and discard it immediately."