Express news service
KOCHI: Children, especially those under the age of five, are constantly at risk of injury. There can be many external causes for this associated with their inherent curiosity. Lately, a new villain has been identified as causing serious injury to children: toy magnets! They are available online in different colors and are extremely dangerous and potentially fatal if swallowed by children, according to experts.
Recently, a two-year-old from Kochi underwent surgery at a private hospital here. The child had swallowed toy magnets in the shape of pearls. According to Geetha Mammayil, a pediatric gastroenterologist, these cases are on the increase lately, and most parents seem to be unaware of the risks posed by these toys.
“Last month we had to operate on a child who swallowed these magnets. The child kept vomiting and complained of stomach pain. Later, an x-ray revealed that she had swallowed magnets that had punctured holes in her intestines. Another case we had a week ago was about a one-and-a-half-year-old child, ”said Geetha, who is based in Kochi.
Experts are reporting cases in the US and UK where children have died after swallowing such magnets. This had led to a ban on these products in these countries. Toy magnets – shiny magnetic balls that can be put together to form different shapes and shapes – are attractive to babies and children.
“Most people are unaware of the harm they pose. Magnets, in most cases, are hard metal balls. Unlike fridge magnets, these are highly magnetized. Once glued, they are very difficult to separate. Since they are shiny, children are tempted to put them in their mouths, and sometimes they accidentally swallow them. These magnets are found in various parts of the digestive tract and then stick to each other inside, damaging tissue and burning holes. In such cases, surgery is the only option, ”Geetha said.
In some cases, parents delay hospital visits by assuming that since these magnets are not sharp, they can be ejected in the stool. “If the child swallows more than two or three pieces, not all of them will necessarily come out. Those that remain can damage the system. Therefore, children must be rushed to hospital, ”said A Abraham, a pediatrician based in Alappuzha. “The child will need emergency surgery depending on the severity of the injuries. The worst-case scenario would require many operations, bowel resection and time in pediatric intensive care, ”Abraham added.
Did you know?
- Toy magnets are magnetic balls that appear as beads that can take different shapes. It is sold as part of home decor, office supplies, anti-stress accessories, office sculptures and crafts
- When swallowed, these magnets can stick to each other in and through organs and tissues and can cut off the blood supply, causing tissue death.
- These magnets are 10 times more powerful than traditional magnets. If these are found on either side of a piece of the digestive tract, it can interfere with the blood supply.
- High-strength magnets can tear a child’s intestine if they swallow them, causing fatal injuries