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High-Powered Magnets

Magnetic toys come in all shapes and sizes. Brightly colored and designed for building activities, these toys can provide a fun, educational experience. However, toys with high-powered magnets can cause severe injuries in children if they’re swallowed. It’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of this potential harm and keep a close eye on children of all ages playing with high-powered magnets.

What to Know

High-powered magnets are among the most dangerous ingestion hazards in children. These small, shiny magnets are made from rare earth metals and sold in sets of 100 balls or more for children to sculpt into different shapes.

Swallowing more than one of these magnets can be life-threatening. Once ingested, the magnets can pull together in your child’s digestive system with enough force to cause serious damage to the delicate gut tissue.

Worrisome Symptoms to Watch for After Ingestion

Many children do not have any symptoms after swallowing a high-powered magnet. If you’re child does have symptoms, they may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

What to Do

If you think your child has swallowed a high-powered toy magnet, call IPC at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. Putting off evaluation and potential treatment can lead to severe injuries to your child’s stomach, intestines and digestive tract. It can even lead to death.

How to Protect Children

If you have high-powered magnetic toys in your home, follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Dispose of rare-earth magnets quickly.
  • Keep products with small or loose magnets away from young children. The best option is a locked container in a high or hidden place.
  • Supervise young children carefully when anyone is using the magnets.
  • Put the magnets away promptly and check carefully to make sure none is left on the floor or anywhere a young child could find them.
  • Check magnetic toys often for cracks where a magnet could come loose.
  • Do not purchase magnets in large sets. It's too hard to tell if a few of them have gone missing.
  • Talk to your older children and teens about the serious risks of using fake magnetic piercings in their mouths or noses. These piercings are usually made with high-powered magnets. They can accidentally be swallowed or inhaled.

IPC is here to help. Calls to our helpline, 1-800-222-1222, are free and confidential. Toxicology experts are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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