Ah, ’tis the season! Chestnuts are roasting, sleighbells are ringing, etc., and, unfortunately, toy companies are turning out a spate of new items that carry unusual safety concerns for children.
Today’s example: those tiny, round, powerful and popular magnets (sold as Neocube and other brands). If swallowed by a child they can cause considerable harm, even death.
Here’s what happens: a toddler swallows one magnet (or more) and then later swallows another, or a metallic object. Sitting in different parts of the bowel, the magnets/metal objects are instantly attracted to each other, pinching loops of bowel between them as they connect.
The trapped bowel tissue may die, leading to a perforation (hole) in the intestine, or the magnets may obstruct the bowel–conditions that both require emergency surgery.
This isn’t a theoretical concern. At least 19 children have required surgery to remove such magnets, and one 20 month-old died as a result.