Dr Nidhu Jasm, Paediatric Surgeon, warns parents of magnetic toys that can cause irreversible damage to organs

In this digital age, parents tend to look to online sources when searching for toys for their children. Finding entertainment and stimulating toys for children to keep them occupied can be as convenient as a click away, however, there are certain toys out there that may be unsafe for children that we may not know about. For example, as referenced in CNA and Straits Times articles in 2019, the public had been warned of magnetic toys by Enterprise Singapore, after serious unfortunate cases that happened overseas.

There was recently one such case in Singapore, where a nine year-old patient was admitted to Thomson Surgical Centre, after a series of vomiting and stomach pain episodes, as reported here.

The magnetic balls that the nine-year-old girl swallowed constricted and punctured her intestine, causing her to repeatedly throw up green vomit over the course of two weeks, perplexing doctors, as no one knew she had swallowed the balls. An X-ray scan eventually revealed that there were 14 magnetic balls in her intestines, and she received emergency surgery immediately to remove the 14 magnetic balls, each measuring 3mm to 5mm in diameter.

"The magnets tend to attract each other through the intestine walls, and this results in injuries along the intestines, potentially causing a burn through the intestine walls," Dr Nidhu Jasm, Paediatric Surgeon at Thomson Surgical Centre explained.

Two stretches of her small intestine - one 3.5cm and the other 6.5cm - had to be cut out as they were irreversibly damaged by the balls pulling and pushing against one another in her body.

"I could feel (the tight wrap of) the balls when I put my fingers in. What happens is the magnets are (strongly attracted to one another) and this is very tight. It's not easy to pull them apart. This squeezing blows a hole in the intestines - it usually takes about a week to 10 days to manifest," said Dr Nidhu.

“Even if the child playing with them doesn't swallow them, a younger sibling crawling around on the floor might,” added Dr Nidhu.

Such toys can be stimulating and entertaining for children, especially when their peers have similar toys, however, they pose great dangers and can potentially cause irreversible damages, and should not be introduced into a child’s environment.

Thomson Medical urges all parents to dispose of all similar magnetic toys regardless of their children’s ages and advise other parents to do the same, for the safety of children.

For more information, kindly contact Thomson Surgical Centre.

Photos: iStock and Thomson Surgical Centre

Thomson Surgical Centre
Address: 339 Thomson Road, #03-01, Singapore 307677
WhatsApp: 8666 1646
Email: surgicalcentre@thomsonmedical.com

For more information about toy safety, visit consumerproductsafety.gov.sg.


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