Another child has needed life saving surgery after swallowing tiny high-powered magnets called Buckyballs®.
According the Huffington Post, three-year-old Payton Bushnell swallowed 37 of the tiny ball bearing magnets, which attracted each other inside her body and tore holes in her intestines and stomach. When Payton suffered abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, her parents took her to the doctor thinking she had stomach flu. An x-ray revealed the magnets, which doctors removed in an emergency surgery.
Payton’s mother told Fox8 News that her daughter might have thought they looked like the decorations they put on Christmas cookies.
Consumers may recognize these products sold as Buckyballs®, Nanospheres® or other brand names. These magnet sets, marketed as adult desk toys and stress relievers, contain 200 or more ball bearing style magnets that the user can use to build shapes.
Even if a child does not play directly with the magnet sets, they can encounter them after the tiny magnets roll away or otherwise become loose from the set. There are so many in a set that it is hard to tell when any are missing.
When ingested, these magnets can attract each other internally, perforating the stomach and intestines, or causing a blockage in the digestive tract, blood poisoning or death.
“Buckyballs was saddened to learn that a 3-year old girl in Oregon had swallowed high-powered magnets but we are relieved that she is expected to make a full recovery,” Maxfield & Oberton said on their website. “This unfortunate incident underscores the fact that Buckyballs and Buckycubes are for adults. They are not toys and are not intended for children. We urge all consumers to read and comply with the warnings we place on all our products, on our website and in stores. Please keep these products out of the hands and reach of all children.”
Maxfield & Oberton LLC, of New York, NY, recalled 175,000 Buckyballs High Powered Magnet Sets in May 2010 because the product was labeled “Age 13+” and federal regulations prohibit sale of high powered magnets to children under age 14. At that time, the company was aware of two reports of children swallowing one or more magnets. The company has continued selling the Buckyballs product, but revised the labeling to say “Keep Away From All Children.”
An increasing number of reports of children swallowing these magnets prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to warn of the serious dangers associated with ingesting the magnets in November 2011. The CPSC has received 17 reports of children ranging from 18 months old to 15 years old, including 11 cases that required surgery to remove the magnets and repair the children’s stomach and intestines.
“We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent looking magnets,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum in a release. “The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress.”
The CPSC created a video of the dangers of ingesting high-powered magnets.