A recent study published by U.K. researchers in The Lancet highlights the increased occurrence of children swallowing magnets.
The study followed two cases of children swallowing magnets. In one case, an 18-month-old child had swallowed 10 small magnetic balls. The child needed a laparotomy to remove the balls. The child had suffered from abdominal pain for five days before the balls were discovered according to Fox News.
The second child, an 8-year-old, swallowed to magnetic strips, each about 1 inch long. This child also needed surgical intervention.
When multiple magnets are swallowed, they can be attracted to each other and trap tissue in between them. Once in the intestines, the magnets can create abnormal connections between parts of the bowel. Also, they can cause perforations. Another concern is that diagnosis can be delayed because the children do not necessarily experience pain right away.
The researchers are particularly concerned because of the widespread availability of cheap toys with magnets. Additionally, parents should be particularly wary of high-powered ball magnets that are part of adult “stress-relief” toys.
Dr. Anil Thomas George of the Queen’s Medical Center in Nottingham and one of the study’s researchers said, “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.”
Both of the children in the study have made full recoveries.