Parents should avoid buying toys with magnets for Christmas, call pediatric surgeons



Pediatric surgeons are urging parents not to buy toys that include small, often brightly colored magnets as Christmas presents, following the dramatic increase in the number of children in need of surgery after swallowing them.

The Children’s Surery Foundation has issued a warning, as research shows a fivefold increase in children who have been swallowing magnets for the past five years.

Mr Hemanshoo Thakkar, a consultant pediatric surgeon at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London (UK), said: “This year alone, Evelina London has seen 15 new cases of children swallowing magnets and operated on seven of them, several of which were very bad. “

A study conducted in four major hospitals in the South East of England found that 251 children were admitted after swallowing foreign objects between 2016-2020. Of these, 37% were coins (93 boxes), 21% were magnets (52 boxes) and 17% are batteries with buttons (42 boxes).

During this period, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of children who swallow magnets, most of which are brightly colored matchstick-shaped pieces found in children’s building kits. More than 40% of the children needed surgery and in half of the cases the children had complications because their intestines had holes, which led to infections. “

Mr. Hemanshoo Thakkar, Consulting Pediatric Surgeon, Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London

Only 2% of children who swallow batteries with buttons need surgery, but 42% of those who swallow magnets require either lock surgery (laparoscopy) or a more invasive laparotomy that involves incisions in the abdominal wall to obtain access to the intestines.

If children swallow one magnet, it will probably pass through their body harmlessly, but if they swallow two or more magnets, especially at different times, the magnets, which are getting stronger, are pressed together in the gut, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is interrupted. Significant damage can be caused within hours, as holes are made in children’s intestines that make children feel unwell and sometimes seriously ill, many of which require complex operations to remove magnets and require long periods. of recovery in a hospital, “Mr Takcar said.

Ms. Caroline Pardi, a trustee of the Pediatric Surgery Foundation, a pediatric surgeon at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, said: “The growing number of recommendations we receive about children who have swallowed multiple magnets is very worrying. Fortunately, most can be observed with x-rays to track the passage of magnets outside the gut and can avoid surgery, but we have seen a number of children who have become seriously ill, especially young nonverbal children and which the absorption of a magnet is not recognized. they also talked to many parents who are very angry that their child swallowed the magnets during school. Such magnets are sometimes used as “sensory” toys for children with additional needs. In other circumstances, the magnets were brought to school by other children. I would urge all schools to ban such magnets, regardless of the age of the children.

“Most of the children I’ve driven with swallowed magnets are at an age that parents may not think they’re at risk of doing. They are also usually embarrassed, and even when magnets are identified on an X-ray, they often deny. risk. “

Surgeons say they see two-year-old children swallowing magnets, but also teenagers. The average age of children admitted to hospital after ingestion of magnets is seven years.

Mr Thakkar added: “These magnets are being promoted on several websites and on social media. We see some kids following TikTok influencers who use magnets to create fake piercings on their tongues and cheeks, and when the kids copied them, they accidentally swallowed the magnets. “

Mr Munther Haddad, President of the Foundation for Pediatric Surgery, President of the British Association of Pediatric Surgeons (BAPS) and Consultant Pediatric and Neonatal Surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Our main message, especially in building until Christmas, it’s not about buying your kids toys with magnets in them. If families already have toy magnets at home, it is important that children are closely monitored when playing with them, and if the children are old enough, please warn them of the dangers of swallowing magnets.

“In the United Kingdom, there is a legal requirement set out in Rules for magnetic toys (safety) 2008, for all sold magnetic toys to be accompanied by a warning, but most manufacturers do not show them. This means that many parents are not aware of the problems that magnets can cause until their children are hospitalized. “

Jimmy Bui, two years old from Ramsgate in Kent, needed open surgery in June this year after swallowing three magnets.

His father, Hung Bui, said: “Jimmy swallowed small magnets used to stick a note on the refrigerator. He started to get tired and then stopped eating and going to the toilet, so we took him to the local A&E.

“We had no idea he had swallowed three of the magnets until we saw him on the X-ray.

The 33-year-old added: “The magnets had stuck together, causing a hole in Jimmy’s gut. He was transferred to Evelina London Children’s Hospital for open surgery and spent three weeks recovering there.

“We are always very careful, but it still happened, so I want to warn other parents to be very vigilant. I would urge them not to buy toys containing these magnets. We don’t have any of these magnets in our household anymore. “

Source:

Pediatric Surgery Foundation



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