Billings parents certainly do their best to protect their children from harm, but danger sometimes lies in unexpected places. Recent reports have highlighted the risk that common magnets can pose to children. Some seemingly innocuous objects, such as adult desk toys, can become a dangerous product in the hands of a child. Even more concerning are reports of serious injuries resulting from the ingestion of magnets found in unsafe kids’ products.

In the last three years, 22 cases of children swallowing magnets have been reported. Half of these cases required surgery. Another 20 cases were reported between 2003 and 2007, and nearly all of those cases resulted in surgery. One child even died. All of the injuries were reported among children between the ages of 18 months and 15 years.

Most objects that children swallow will pass through the digestive system with little harm. Magnets, on the other hand, may stick together in the intestinal tract and cause internal bleeding and infections. Because the symptoms of blockage initially mimic other common stomach ailments, serious conditions may develop before the problem is identified and appropriately treated.

Most adult products using magnets come with warning labels to keep them away from children. But magnets have long been a popular element of toys directly marketed at children. Several magnetic toy products have been recalled over the past decade. Unfortunately, recalls sometimes do not occur until after injuries are reported.

Parents of children injured by unsafe toy products may be entitled to compensation under the law. Nonetheless, every parent knows that prevention is the best medicine. With these issues in mind, our readers in Montana may want to take a closer look at their children’s toys and make certain that household magnets are kept safely out of reach.

Source: Poison Control, “Toy magnets are dangerous for children,” Serkalem Mekonnen, RN, BSN, MPH January, 2020