Magnetic force can be fatal to children -

Magnetic toys a hazard to kids

Children will put just about anything in their mouths.

Regardless of whether it's found on the floor or picked off a toy; a small, magnetic object might appear to be a shiny piece of candy to any child.

If a child swallows two magnetic pieces, however, it could be fatal.

Little objects in little hands can create a medical emergency in a snap.

Magnetic toys can be attractive office ornaments, but if swallowed, those pieces are magnetically attracted to one another inside a person's body.  

"We see case after case after case of children putting small objects in their mouth, swallowing them and it becoming a really dangerous situation," says Inez Moore Tenenbaum, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In recent years, the CPSC has received hundreds of complaints including 33 reports of emergency surgery to remove a magnet, and one tragic incident that resulted in the death of a toddler.

Small magnets are also used in some children's toys and teenagers use them as a prop mouth piercing. When teens accidentally swallow these magnets, it results in a trip to the hospital.

"They lock together and cause that intestinal blockage," Tenenbaum says.

Symptoms of a lodged magnet are vague, but very similar to a stomach virus.

In reality, the magnets or a single magnet and another metal part are pulling pieces of tissue together.

Over time, the pressure can cause a rip in body tissue and digestive juices can start leaking into the body.

The CPSC is pressing manufacturers and the toy industry to step up protective measures, but despite warning labels, magnets still end up in mouths and bellies.

"Children really get to almost a near-death experience before the problem is diagnosed," Tenenbaum says.

If you see your child swallow a magnet, seek immediate medical care. Surgery is the only way to remove them if they are stuck in the intestines.

You should also be aware that stomach pain, nausea and vomiting may be more than just a belly ache.  

Keep any small magnets or metal pieces away from children.

Make sure you regularly look for loose magnets on toys and around the house.

Remember, if a toy was made to be an office toy for adults, it's best to keep those items at the office and far out of reach of your children. 

Additional Information: 

  • Of the 33 cases of reported emergency surgery to the CPSC, the children ranged in age from 10 months to 11 years. The majority were older than three, and the majority were boys. All of the injuries led to hospital stays, which ranged from three to 19 days. In nearly all cases reviewed by CPSC, children had suffered intestinal perforations. (
  • Among cases known to the Centers for Disease Control, two children each swallowed 15 magnets; the other 18 children swallowed from one (plus a nonmagnetic metal piece) to nine magnets. In 12 cases, magnets had been dislodged from toy pieces; in three cases, entire magnetic pieces were swallowed intact. Ten children swallowed magnets from their own toys, three swallowed magnets from an older sibling's toy, and three swallowed magnets from toys at day care facilities or school. At least five of the children swallowed magnets or magnetic pieces intentionally, including two who thought they were candy and one who swallowed three magnets on a dare. Five children had potentially relevant conditions, including autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays, and neurological disorder

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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