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Dangers of Magnetic Toys

Refrigerator magnets and other magnetic toys can provide a fun, educational experience for many young children. However, loose magnets and high-powered magnet sets designed for adults can cause serious injuries if swallowed.

Safety Alert for Parents of Young Children:

In November 2016, a ban on high-powered magnet sets was overturned, meaning the products are back on store shelves. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ordered high-powered magnet sets manufactured by Zen Magnets to stop being sold in stores in November 2017, other brands of high-powered magnets are still being sold at stores around the country. These products, while designed for adults, are therefore still on the market and still very dangerous if swallowed.

What Makes These Magnets So Dangerous? 

High–powered magnet sets are made of tiny and very powerful magnet balls or cubes, often with 100 or more magnets to a set. If swallowed, they can pull together with enough force to cause serious and life-threatening damage to the digestive system.

Before the ban on these products, thousands of people, many of them children, ended up in emergency rooms with injuries. After the ban, doctors say it dropped to only a few. Now that high-powered magnets are back on the market, it is crucial for parents to be aware of the damage they can cause.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges families with children not to have high-powered magnet sets in their home. ​

Tips to Protect Your Children from the Dangers of Magnets:

  • Keep products with small or loose magnets away from young children who might swallow them.

  • Closely monitor loose magnets and other magnetic products to ensure children do not swallow them.

  • Avoid purchasing magnets sold in sets of 100 or more, as it is difficult to recognize if a few magnets have gone missing.

  • Talk to your older children and teens about the serious dangers associated with using magnets as fake piercings in their mouths or noses.

Know the Symptoms of Magnet Ingestion:

  • Children who have ingested magnets may have abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever. Because these symptoms are common in children and not usually caused by ingested objects, the true cause may not be suspected right away.

  • Delaying treatment can lead to severe injuries to the stomach, intestines, and digestive tract and even death.

  • Contact your pediatrician or nearest emergency department immediately if you suspect your child has swallowed or been injured by a magnet.

Report Injuries & Incidences of Magnet Ingestions to the CPSC:

If your child has swallowed a magnet and/or been injured by a magnetic product, you can report that injury to the CPSC, the federal agency tasked with ensuring children’s toys and other consumer products are safe.

The CPSC has an online database for parents and the general public to report dangerous products and injuries related to consumer products directly to the agency.  Anyone can visit to report injuries related to magnet ingestions or other products directly to the CPSC. 

The site requests, but does not require, the injured victim’s information. The CPSC must publicly disclose accident or investigation reports, but does not include identifying information for any injured individual or the person reporting the incident. If further information is necessary, the CPSC will contact the reporting individual directly, but such contact information is not shared with others.

Stronger regulatory action to remove dangerous magnets and magnetic products from the marketplace may depend on the CPSC receiving reports of injuries associated with these products.  Parents and others who witness magnet-related injuries are encouraged to report the incidents to the CPSC.

Additional Information & Resources: 

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2017)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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