September 22, 2008

Kids Swallowing Magnets Can Be Fatal

Canadian public health officials are reminding parents that small magnets pose a health hazard to young children who may swallow them.

The magnets -- used increasingly in a wide range of products including toys and clothing -- can become loose and easily swallowed by small children. Swallowing more than one magnet over a short period of time can create an intestinal blockage or even a tear, with serious, even fatal, results, the government health agency said.

Recently, a 5-year-old child in British Columbia required emergency surgery to remove two magnetic toy parts that she had swallowed.

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends magnetic toys be kept out of environments where children under age 6 play.

Children can swallow magnets unnoticed and show no signs of physical distress or discomfort for many days, Canada Health said.

"Symptoms -- vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain -- are similar to a bad flu and parents may not seek medical attention until severe trauma has developed," a statement from Canada Health said.

"Those taking care of children should be aware of the hazard and seek medical care if they suspect magnets may have been swallowed. The condition of toys and other products needs to be examined and those having small magnets kept out of the reach of children who still put non-food items in their mouths."