The Child Accident Prevention Trust has highlighted the dangers associated with magnetic toys where a child may swallow the magnets.

Concerns have been raised following the case of a three-year-old child in Northern Ireland.

If a child swallows the small balls, magnets effectively burn holes in their intestines or bowels. The magnets stick together internally and through organs and tissues, and can cut off blood supply causing the tissue to die.

They are also much more complex than button batteries to extract. The child will need emergency surgery, then, depending on the severity of the injuries, they may need numerous operations, bowel resection and time in paediatric intensive care.

Suzanne Lawther, a consultant in paediatric surgery at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children explains:

“They (the magnetic ball toys) are about 10 times stronger than traditional magnets and if the magnets end up on either side of a piece of the digestive tract, the magnetic force is so strong that it actually interferes with the blood supply. They can cause that bit of bowel to die and ultimately to develop a hole or sometimes abnormal connections between different parts of the bowel, which left untreated can make children and adults very unwell and be potentially life-threatening.”

You can find more on this along with other useful safety information on the Trust’s website at

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