Did you know that magnets can kill children

Children and magnets?

It is a given that children are really fascinated with magnets and I know I certainly was when I was a youngster and I see children today are still having fun with them too.

Magnets have become so much more powerful over time and some recent studies have shown that some children’s magnetic toys are up to 10 times more powerful today than just a couple of years ago.

Children will always put things in their mouths and small magnets are no different either especially if they are encased in their favourite toy.

But magnets if swallowed by the youngster can be fatal as can those who swallow button batteries that power many things today.

I wrote a blog about that a little while back here is the link.

In 2019 which was only a couple of years ago, 19 children were admitted to hospital in Belfast alone and one 3-year-old child had 49 magnets, yes you read it correctly  49 magnets had to be removed from the child’s stomach according to a BBC report at the time 

3 of those 19 children had to have major surgery to have these magnets removed, but not before these magnets had done a considerable amount of damage to the intestines and other vital organs in the child’s body.

This is not just a Northern Ireland problem. It is becoming a larger problem in many parts of the UK and seems to be growing at an alarming rate too.

Whats happening?

This craze has been rapidly spreading across the UK for a while and according to recent media articles children have been mimicking tongue and cheek piercings with magnets.

Let’s face it many youngsters have various facial piercings today and the youngsters look on these people as role models and want to copy them.

It is understandable that children would be unaware of the potential damage a pair of magnets going through the gastrointestinal tract can cause. This can trigger bowel perforation or intestinal blockage which can be fatal if not detected and removed quickly.

One child recently had part of the bowel removed because the magnets were ripping through the stomach wall.

Many hospitals across the UK have said this is becoming more commonplace as this fad grows and grows.

These magnets are sold as creative toys and have been banned from sale in other countries but sadly easily available in the UK according to the media.

Why so powerful

These neodymium magnets are very different in composition from the old-style iron magnet I remembered from my childhood, and these magnets are produced by mixing iron, boron, and neodymium powders and then pressing them into various shapes to fit into the toys.


There is nothing new about children swallowing things and usually will not cause any issues on its journey through the body but you should still take the child to A&E to be checked over to ensure things will be fine.

But with magnets and button batteries, things can become more life-threatening surprisingly quickly and an urgent trip to A&E is required to obtain the best possible outcome.

We all what our little ones to enjoy their childhoods but accidents happen, would you know how to provide first aid to your child in an emergency first aid situation?

Our Paediatric first aid course is an OFQUAL regulated qualification that meets EYFS and DfE guidelines. You will be pleasantly surprised with the learning outcomes from this course and how you could use these skills in an emergency first aid situation with your children. We can come to you too.