Current warnings labels on magnetic toys don't seem to be effective in keeping powerful magnets out of the mouths of small children according to a survey by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN.)
The NASPGHAN represents 1700 pediatric gastroenterologists in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The doctors would like to see the magnets banned.
Many of our member physicians have had the unfortunate experience of removing these high-powered neodymium magnets from the gastrointestinal tract of innocent infants and children to reduce the risk of abdominal surgery, said Athos Bousvaros, M.D., President elect of NASPGHAN. It is simply unreasonable to suggest that product warnings are sufficient to prevent their accessibility to children and adolescents. The only solid way to prevent ingestion of these magnets is to ban them.
Young children may think that the magnets are candy and older children and even teens use the magnets to mimic tongue piercings.
How dangerous are magnets if ingested? If two or or more of these small magnets are swallowed they may attract two loops of bowel together and although the intestinal tract is pretty tough, it is no match for high powered magnets. The pinching together of the intestinal walls can cause bowel ulceration, perforations in the intestine and severe injury requiring surgery.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed a lawsuit against Maxfield & Oberton, the manufacturer of Buckyballs and Buckycubes, after the company refused to cease distribution of the high-powered, rare earth magnet products that have caused serious injury to children as a result of ingestion.
The company announced on Monday that that they have discontinued the controversial desk toy. The company claims the products were manufactured for and marketed to adults. The products will continue to be sold online until the current supply sells out.
Symptoms of magnet ingestion are abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. These are very common symptoms and may indicate a variety of illnesses. Initial evaluation can miss that magnets are the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, delay in treatment may lead to an increased severity of consequences. If your child presents with these symptoms, and you know that there have been small magnets in the house, be sure to take your child to the doctor or the emergency room and tell the examining physician.