While magnets may appear fun to play with, there are serious dangers associated with young children swallowing them.
If two or more magnets are swallowed, they can join together across different layers of the stomach or intestines, causing blockages, perforation and haemorrhaging. These can then lead to circulatory shock or sepsis, both of which can be fatal if not treated quickly.
To help protect Australian consumers, there are two safe-guards in place:
A permanent national ban on loose or separable small, high-powered magnets in products such as adult toys, games, puzzles, construction kits for mental stimulation or stress relief, and jewellery items worn in or around the mouth or nose.
A safety standard for children’s toys that contain loose magnets, or magnets embedded in components, that are small enough to swallow and powerful enough to be difficult to pull apart.
Parents and carers
It is vitally important you know the signs of magnet ingestion. Small children, who are most likely to put things in their mouths, can’t necessarily articulate their pain or that they have swallowed something they shouldn’t have; while older children can fail to comprehend the consequences of not advising they have swallowed something dangerous can far outweigh the consequences of fessing up.
Symptoms of magnet ingestion injury include abdominal pain, vomiting and fever, which can easily be attributed to other, less serious childhood ailments, but you know your child best.
Delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to severe and even fatal injuries. If you suspect your child may have swallowed any type of magnet contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 16 or your nearest emergency department for immediate medical attention.
If you supply products containing magnets that are intended, or likely to be used for personal, domestic or household purposes, you should ensure they are safe and comply, where applicable, with the relevant toy safety standard or the permanent ban.
You can find more information on the relevant toy safety standard and small high-powered magnets ban including the dangers associated with swallowing powerful magnets can be found on the Product Safety Australia website.