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Small magnets pose risk to children if ingested

We previously published an article warning parents of the health hazards posed to children by Buckyballs, a set of round, high-powered magnets that are meant to be used by adults as a stress-relieving desk toy.  Now, the dangers of small magnets are in the headlines again after an article in the Lancet reports two cases of children being injured after swallowing the small magnets in the U.K.

The authors were particularly concerned of the swallowing incidences, one by an 18-month-old and the other by an 8-year-old, since they both happened within the last 18 months and no other cases had occurred in the UK.  The 18-month old swallowed ten small, round magnets.  The older child swallowed two 2-cm long magnetic strips.  Both children had to have the magnets surgically removed, and both made a full recovery.  Although the US and Canadian governments have both issued health warnings regarding small magnets, the UK has not issued any similar health alerts.

When multiple magnets are swallowed, they often adhere through the intestines or bowel causing obstructions and/or tears in the intestinal lining.  Immediate surgery is necessary to prevent further damage and to remove the magnets and repair the damage.

Accidental ingestion of magnets, which was once rare in the UK, has become more common owing to the increasing availability of toys with magnetic elements, according to the authors of the Lancet article.  (Note: The authors did not specify the toy or toys from which the magnets were obtained.)

The authors concluded with the following warning:

“We are particularly concerned about the widespread availability of cheap magnetic toys where the magnetic parts could become easily detached. Parents should be warned of the risk of magnet ingestion, particularly in small children. We believe that improvement in public awareness about this risk will be key in preventing such incidents.”

According to ABC News, Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets is a children’s toy with small magnets that have been swallowed by children.  One incident of ingesting magnets was reported in 2009, seven in 2010 and 14 through October 2011 in the U.S. The ages of these cases ranged from 18 months to 15 years old, and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that the toy products were initially recalled in March 2006, and in April 2007 an expanded recall was issued.  ABC News reports that the product has since been redesigned for improved safety.

Our Pennsylvania product liability attorneys realize how devastating it can be to a family when a child is seriously injured from a seemingly harmless toy.  We ask that all parents closely inspect any toys with embedded magnets that could come loose.  It is critical that you take away any toys that could pose a hazard to your child.  If you believe your child was injured by a dangerous or defective toy, you may be eligible for compensation.

About Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys

Munley Law is a Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm that represents car accident victims and their families throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, including those injured in accidents that involve speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving and careless driving in hazardous weather conditions. The Pennsylvania personal injury law firm’s additional practice areas include trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, toxic chemicals, workplace injuries, nursing home litigation and other serious accidents. To contact the law firm, use the firm’s online contact form.

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