MED+ Urgent Care Blog

WARNING!!! Swallowed Magnets Can Be Dangerous!
Wed, Jun 14, 2017

Pediatric ingestion of high-powered, rare earth magnets (or neodymium magnets) is a serious health problem. Neodymium magnets are extremely powerful magnets that can attract each other from a significant distance. The culprit of a growing trend of magnet ingestions are small high-powered 5mm magnets sold in packages of 100 or more. These magnets sets and are commonly marketed as "adult desk toys."

GI Kids and NASPGHAN have called for a ban on the sale of high-powered magnet sets because there is compelling evidence that the use of warning labels in their marketing and packaging have not been effective in preventing the ingestion of these magnets by infants, children and teenagers.

They are frequently found in:

Desk or office toys              Toys

Office supplies                    Jewelry 

Pain relief products             Machines and tools

These magnets usually are small in size and round in shape, like BBs or ball bearings. Magnet ball brand names include BuckyBalls™ and Neocube™

Though intended for adult use, they are difficult to keep out of the reach of children They are shiny and attractive to toddlers and frequently used by “tweens” and teens to mimic body piercing jewelry

Extremely powerful magnetic attractions are produced When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnetic force can bring two pieces of intestine tightly together, and make holes in the intestines

Magnet ingestion can lead to bowel injury, blockage or severe infection

  •  Over 200 documented cases of children swallowing these magnets
  •  Most require emergency procedures for removal
  •  Some require major surgery

What can parents do?

  • Keep tiny ultra-powerful magnets out of the reach of infants and toddlers
  • Educate your older children and teens about the risks of swallowing these magnets. These magnets are not children’s toys.
  • If your toddler or child swallows these magnets, immediately call your doctor or go to the emergency department.