Parents: Kids and Small Magnets Don’t Mix
The magnets, if swallowed, can land your child in the ER — or worse
Magnets attract kids, and the results can be devastating.
Recently a two-year-old Houston girl spent more than two weeks in the hospital after she swallowed nine magnetic balls the size of BB pellets, according to KTRK, the ABC news affiliate in Houston. Her mother, Lexi Kendall, told the station she knew something was wrong with daughter, Ava, when she started screaming and clutching her stomach. Kendall took Ava to the emergency room at Texas Children’s Hospital, where a scan showed the magnets in her intestine.
"Magnets find each other, even though skin," Kendall told KTRK. "They had burrowed in her intestines, creating holes."
Kenneth Boyce, an engineer with UL, confirms the danger. “When ingested the magnetic forces can be powerful enough to cause the magnets to attract through body tissues," says Boyce. Imagine two magnets in different places in the intestines. The magnetic force "pulls the magnets directly toward each other, which can result in tissues being trapped between the magnets. This can pinch off or damage part of the intestines."
According to Yahoo, the magnets the girl swallowed were part of a gift and were similar to Buckyballs, which the CPSC banned in 2008. Small children may think the magnets are candy. Older children have used the magnets to imitate body piercings in the mouth and nose, the CPSC wrote in a press release — and they may accidentally ingest them.
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Despite the warning, the injuries continued. In 2012, a two-year-old Mississippi boy swallowed eight magnets from a game, causing severe injury to his intestines, according to the CPSC. And a three-year-old Oregon girl ingested 37 magnets from a desk toy, which tore holes in her intestines.
“The products that are already out there still cause incidents,” says Boyce.
When it comes to kids and magnets, the CPSC urges parents to:
1. Keep small magnets away from kids, including magnets found in construction sets, children’s toys, desk toys and refrigerator magnets.
2. Look through your child’s toys and play areas regularly for missing or dislodged magnets.
3. Make sure your older child knows magnets are not jewelry, and tell her what could happen if she accidentally swallowed one.
If you think your child swallowed a magnet, get medical attention immediately. Look for symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object. The magnets in the
three-year-old Oregon girl’s stomach formed a circle, leading doctors initially
to believe she swallowed a bracelet, according to the CPSC.
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