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Magnetic Toys Pose Serious Threat to Children and Teens

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A magnetic toy

Magnet Toys Dangerous for Children

The increasingly popular small, round toy magnets may be a lot of fun for children, but they’re also spelling big trouble for some.  Christin Rivas, age 14, was playing with the magnets at school and having a great time as she used them to make shapes or perform “magic tricks” by placing a pen on the top of her desk and a magnet underneath and watching the pen “float” across the desk top.  Unfortunately, Christin’s fun was cut short when she decided to place the magnets in her mouth for a moment in order to use both hands to grab something.  A classmate made her laugh and she accidentally swallowed the magnets; about a week later she was in the hospital having them removed as well as part of her colon and appendix.

Label Warnings Not Enough to Deter Children from Placing Magnet Toys in Their Bodies

Although these magnet toys come with label warnings, not surprisingly they accomplish very little to stop children from placing the magnets in their mouths or noses.  These magnets can cause serious damage, as witnessed in Christin’s case, because they will work hard inside the body to “find” one another.  As the magnets strain to connect, they can cause damage to intestines or other internal organs by twisting or becoming blocked.  The pull of the magnets can cause erosion, ulceration, and even perforation, leading to serious surgery to correct the problem for some.  Although children younger than 5 are known to place objects in their mouths, teens are also at high risk of swallowing magnets or losing them in their nose, as they may use them to mimic facial piercings.

Hospital Visits for Magnet-Related Incidents Increased Five Fold

Doctor Julie Brown, an ER doctor at the University of Washington, in Seattle and a lead researcher in a recent study on the dangers of magnetic toys found that from 2002-2011, magnet-related injuries increased by 5 times for children younger than 21.  The problem of magnetic toy injuries isn’t slowing either, says Dr. Brown.  Also, she notes that it is important not to minimize the dangers of magnets when they are consumed–in Rivas’ case, she was told to go home and that the magnets would “pass on their own”.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and she found herself back in the hospital for serious surgical intervention.  Clearly, the best bet would probably be to forego magnetic toys this holiday season as presents for children and teens–it could save their lives.