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Magnet Safety Warning

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Five year old Noah was only hours from death in January 2017 after he ingested 30 fridge magnets. Doctors at Monash Children’s Hospital are warning parents of the dangers of leaving them within reach of children after seeing a rise in admissions to hospital.

Noah first presented with a severe infection in his stomach and a suspected blockage, further investigation and x-rays were taken where it was discovered the magnets were inside a loop of his intestines. He underwent emergency surgery to remove the household item where he had 10 holes and part of his intestines removed.

Noah spent two days in Monash Children’s Hospital’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and the next month on a ward until he was well enough to go home.

Doctors at Monash Children’s Hospital have seen a rise in the number of cases they’re seeing and are urging parents to be vigilant when their child is playing where magnets are within arm’s reach.

“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” said Dr Maurizio Pacilli, consultant paediatric surgeon at Monash Children’s Hospital.

“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.

Magnet Safety Tips from Kidsafe:
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