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  • Writer's pictureDr. Susan Halverson & Dr. Jorie Shire

Protecting Little Explorers: The Hidden Dangers of Magnetic Objects


As pediatricians, our mission is to safeguard the health and well-being of the youngest members of our community. In recent years, we have observed a concerning trend involving magnetic toys and fake magnetic piercings, posing a serious threat to infants and children.


In this blog entry, we aim to shed light on the hidden dangers associated with these items and provide essential tips for parents to create safer environments for their little ones.

Magnetic toys, often marketed as educational and entertaining, have become increasingly popular. These toys often consist of small, powerful magnets that can connect to form different shapes and structures. While seemingly harmless, these magnets can pose a grave danger if swallowed.


Ingesting multiple magnets or a single magnet along with another metal object can lead to severe complications. The magnets can attract one another through the digestive walls, causing blockages, tissue damage, and even perforations in the digestive tract. Young children, especially those prone to exploring the world through their mouths, are at a higher risk of ingesting these tiny yet perilous objects.


Another concern we’ve encountered is the rising popularity of fake magnetic piercings among older children and adolescents. These trendy accessories may seem harmless, but the small, detachable magnetic components can easily become a hazard if accidentally ingested.


Health Risks and Complications:

  • Ingesting magnets, whether from toys or fake piercings, can result in a range of serious health issues, including:

  • Gastrointestinal injuries: Magnets can attract to each other through the digestive tract, causing damage to the intestinal walls and leading to blockages.

  • Perforations: If magnets attract across different sections of the digestive tract, they can cause perforations, which may require surgical intervention.

  • Infection: A perforation can lead to infections and further complications, necessitating immediate medical attention.

  • If your child has swallowed a magnet (or you suspect your child has swallowed a magnet), call us immediately so that we can help direct the case necessary to keep your child safe. Our direct number is (319) 247-3820 and there is an after hours answering service.


Creating a Safer Home Environment:

  • As pediatricians, we strongly encourage parents to take proactive measures to safeguard their homes and protect their little ones from these potential dangers. Here are some essential tips:

  • Choose age-appropriate toys: Always select toys that are suitable for your child’s age and developmental stage. Check for age recommendations and follow them carefully. It’s best to discard any magnetic toys if you have infants or young toddlers in the house.

  • Supervise playtime: Keep a watchful eye on your child, especially during playtime. This can help prevent accidental ingestion of small objects, including magnets.

  • Regularly inspect toys: Check toys for any loose or damaged parts, especially small magnets. Dispose of any toys that are broken or have missing components.

  • Educate older children: If you have older children or adolescents in the household, make them aware of the dangers associated with fake magnetic piercings. Emphasize the importance of responsible use and storage.

  • Secure magnetic toys when not in use: Store magnetic toys in a secure container or area that is inaccessible to young children. This minimizes the risk of accidental ingestion when the toys are not in use.

By raising awareness about the dangers of magnetic toys and fake magnetic piercings, we hope to empower parents to create safe and nurturing environments for their little explorers. Remember, vigilance and education are key to preventing accidents and ensuring the health and happiness of your family.

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