Recalls on products containing magnets began a few years ago. One example is the Buckyball High- Powered Magnet Set. These toys were the subject of a recall in 2010 because of the risk of young children swallowing them.
Despite these recalls, however, a new report indicates that injuries continue to be an issue, necessitating emergency hospitalization. A study published earlier this year even found that the problem is larger than expected. The problem is that these types of products continue to be sold online or at other secondhand dealers like consignment and thrift stores. Magnetic sculpting balls and magnetic marble desktop toys fall under this umbrella.
Why are tiny magnets a problem?
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the serious risks that these magnets pose to children. If a child swallows two or more, the magnets can become attracted to one another within his or her body.
As the magnets attract they can perforate the intestines/bowels. In addition, they can create blockages in the intestinal tract. In some cases it has resulted in sepsis (an infection causing inflammation that can lead to organ damage and/or failure). Tragically, there has even been a death.
Although the average age of children who swallow the magnets is four years old, young children aren’t the only ones injured by magnets. Teenagers have accidentally swallowed them when mimicking piercings, such as on the lips or tongue.
Parents and other adults aren’t always aware that a child has swallowed magnets. It’s sometimes not until complaints of a stomachache that parents take the child to the doctor where the magnets are discovered. Although X-rays can detect them, if too much time has passed damage will already have been done. Some magnets can be removed through an endoscope but many times they require surgical removal.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently sought opinions from experts on a proposed rule that could prohibit the sale of these products. Until then, parents, teachers, caregivers and others should keep magnetic toys and adult products containing them out of the reach of children and teenagers.
Parents who have a child that was injured by a defective product may consult Gacovino, Lake & Associates to discuss the specifics of the case.