magnets, such as those found in toys, on fridge decorations and jewellery, are
causing severe internal damage and even death in children. See a recent Ten News report.
While a single tiny magnet represents a choking hazard for a child, two or more small magnets swallowed by a toddler or child create a deadly combination because, once swallowed, the force of magnetic attraction will pull them toward each other, even through the walls of the human body’s digestive system.
The result can be perforation of the bowel, infection and even death.
In Brisbane, three children aged 4 to 11 suffered multiple bowel perforations after swallowing a number of magnets. The children arrived at hospital with abdominal pain and vomiting, and were first treated for gastroenteritis. However, X-rays showed that the children had swallowed magnets from magnetic toy construction sets. The ingested magnets gravitated together in the bowel, causing multiple perforations.
The magnets, small but strong, can be found in many toys, jewellery (including fake body piercings), magnetic beads, fridge magnets and photo displays.
Kidsafe Queensland urges all parents of children under eight to check their children’s toys and homes for items which incorporate small magnets. However, even careless teenagers using body jewellery that includes magnets have suffered serious injury through accidental ingestion.
Toys that have small parts carry warning labels aimed at reducing the choking and ingestion risks for children under 3 years. However, the average age of children swallowing these magnets is 4 years.
More detailed information about injuries in children due to magnets please read the research from the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit