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The dangers of small magnetic toys

They’re called rare-earth magnets. They’re 30 times stronger than regular magnets, and they can be dangerous to children if they’re swallowed.

Back in 2012, 22-month old Braylon Jordan was just one of thousands of children who ended up in the emergency room after swallowing tiny magnets.

The powerful force perforated his intestine, most of which had to be surgically removed.

These are not just any magnets – rare-earth magnets can be 30 times stronger than ordinary refrigerator magnets. They have an exceptionally strong magnetic field for their size and can be difficult to separate.  

"These really strong magnets, if they're swallowed, can pinch together breaking through the intestinal tract lining causing serious trauma,” said Consumer Reports Chief Scientific Officer James Dickerson Ph.D.

The type of magnets that caused Braylon's injuries were banned in 2014 -- but in 2016, a panel of Federal judges voted 2 to 1 to rescind the ban and magnets started appearing on store shelves again.

Back In 2016, when the ban on rare-earth magnets was first lifted, the number of ingestions reported was 281 but then rose to an estimated 1,666 in 2019.

"Now that the ban has been lifted, and these products are much more readily available, parents, please be vigilant about protecting your kids from the dangers and hazards of these products," said Dickerson

The Toy Association lobby points out that these rare-earth magnets are designed and sold as adult stress-relievers or executive desk products and are not intended to be used as children's toys.


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