Deadly attraction: Keep magnetic desk toys away from children, teens
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
You don’t see high-powered magnet sets on toy store shelves anymore, and it’s for
a serious reason. Also known as rare-earth magnets, they have a strong attraction
to one another and can be deadly if swallowed.
However, some high-powered magnet sets still are sold online and in stores as desk
toys for adults. You might see them in offices, on living room tables or perhaps you
received a set as a gift over the holidays.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges families with children to keep high-powered
magnet sets out of their home. Young children might be tempted to put the small, shiny
objects into their mouths. Teens might put them in their mouths to look like a tongue
The magnets are about the size of a BB or tiny cube and often come in clusters of
200 or more. They can be molded and shaped without coming apart. They are made from
a combination of metals (neodymium) with a more powerful attraction than regular magnets.
When two or more magnets or one magnet and a piece of metal are swallowed, they can
attract each other through the stomach, intestines and other organs. This can lead
to injury or death, unless removed by a surgeon.
A child who has swallowed magnets can have stomach pain, vomiting and fever. Parents
should get medical help right away.
In 2008, the AAP helped change rules about how children’s toys with magnets are made. Now,
magnets must be attached to the toy so they cannot fall out and be swallowed by children.
The AAP is asking for changes to protect children from being injured by magnet sets
sold to adults. A recent study found that half of all magnet injuries to children
were from sets labeled for adults (http://bit.ly/2BerVUA).