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The Danger Of Magnets In The Home

Magnetic toys are growing in popularity, but so is the accidental ingestion of magnetic elements among children


In a letter published in The Lancet, Doctors highlight the dangers of swallowing magnets and advise parents to take extra care that their children do not accidentally ingest them.
In the letter, Dr Anil Thomas George and Dr Sandeep Motiwale of Queen's Medical Center, part of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, UK, report two separate cases in the last 18 months of children needing surgery in order to remove swallowed magnets.

In both cases, the children accidentally swallowed magnets from small children's toys. In the first incident an 18-month-old-child swallowed 10 small magnetic spheres. In the second incident an 8-year-old child swallowed two 2-cm long magnetic strips. In both cases the children experienced mild stomach pain and doctors found that the magnets were lodged in their digestive systems.

Normally small objects which are accidentally swallowed by young children are able to pass through the digestive system without causing internal damage or illness. However, when multiple magnets are swallowing they can become attracted to each other and trap internal soft tissues between them, which can cause fistulas to develop.

A fistula is an abnormal connection between soft tissues inside the body and may lead to serious illness is left untreated.

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