Children and magnets

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 still having fun with them too.

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

Children put things in their mouths and we know they do and small magnets are no different either especially if they are encased in a toy.

We all know what those shiny flat batteries can do to our children if swallowed and I wrote a blog about that a little while back here is the link.

In 2019  19 children were admitted to hospital in Belfast alone and one 3 years old had 49 magnets, yes 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 considerable damage to the intestines and other vital organs in the 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.

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.

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

What is worrying Christmas is only a couple of weeks away and could quite easily end up in a youngsters Christmas stocking.

Why so powerful

These neodymium magnets are different in composition to the old iron magnet and are produced from mixing iron, boron and neodymium powders and pressed into shapes. These are then magnetised to around 10 times more powerful than a standard iron magnet.


There is nothing new about our 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.