Kidsafe Victoria has issued a warning to parents and carers about the dangers of children choking or suffering serious internal injuries if they ingest magnets.
The warning comes as statistics from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit show that an average of 38 Victorian children present to hospital emergency departments every year with a magnet related injury.
Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, said that young children were at particular risk of injuries involving magnets due to their natural curiosity and lack of awareness of the dangers.
“Children often explore their environments by placing things in their mouths. Small magnets can be accessed from a range of common household items including children’s toys, fridge magnets, jewellery and objects like keyrings.”
Dr Maurizio Pacilli, consultant paediatric surgeon at Monash Children’s Hospital, said that common injuries from the ingestion of magnets included choking, perforation of the bowel, infection and even death.
“If a child swallows two or more magnets they will be drawn towards each other and can lock together inside the body, which can result in perforation of the bowel, blockages and infection. In these cases, urgent surgery is required to remove the magnets and avoid serious medical complications or death”, said Dr Pacilli.
Toys containing magnets are required to meet a mandatory Australian standard which outlines labelling and testing requirements.
Kidsafe Victoria is encouraging all parents and carers to check their homes for items that contain magnets and take action to help keep children safe.
Magnet Safety Tips
Buying objects with magnets
- Look for fridge magnets that are too big to fit in a young child's mouth
- Check that magnets are securely attached to/in the toy, and can’t come off easily
- Check the size of magnets in/on toys to make sure that if they come loose, they wouldn’t fit in a child’s mouth
Using products with magnets
- Keep toys with strong magnets, or magnetic parts that are small enough to be swallowed, away from young children
- If children are playing with toys containing magnets, supervise them closely to ensure none go in their mouth
- Dispose of toys immediately if their magnets come loose
- Avoid the use of magnetic jewellery as fake body piercings
If you suspect a child has swallowed a magnet, seek urgent medical assistance.