Toys contain tiny, powerful magnets that are dangerous to infants, children and adolescents
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) applauds the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) action today to remove from store shelves certain magnetic toys that can be ingested by children. The AAP also welcomes the decision by several retailers to stop selling stress relief magnetic desk toys known as “Buckyballs” and “Buckycubes,” along with similar products because of the risks posed to children who swallow one or more of their tiny round magnets. Each product can contain 100 or more such magnets, making it difficult for parents to recognize when one is missing.
The CPSC’s lawsuit against Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, LLC, the manufacturer of Buckyballs and Buckycubes, follows aggressive advocacy efforts led by the AAP and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHN) to educate the CPSC about the dangers these products pose to infants, children and adolescents.
"As pediatricians, our number one goal is to keep children safe,” said AAP President Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP. “The powerful, tiny magnets contained in these toys and other similar products have caused unnecessary surgeries, debilitating injuries, irreversible gastrointestinal damage and other lifelong health impacts in infants, children and adolescents.”
Recent reported injuries include bowel perforations or fistulas, twisted bowels and severe infections, among other serious gastrointestinal injuries, which have led to dozens of surgeries, endoscopies and bowel resections in children and adolescents. A recent survey of NASPGHN members identified more than 60 magnet ingestions in two years, requiring 26 surgeries and resulting in 23 bowel perforations.
“Pediatricians have been ringing an alarm bell about these dangerous products since we first recognized the damage they cause in children and adolescents who accidentally swallow them,” said Dr. Block. “Once separated, these tiny high-powered magnets will attempt to find each other, even when a stomach wall or intestinal tract stands between them.”
In 2008, the AAP successfully advocated for CPSC to develop new safety standards to prevent magnets in children’s products from falling out, becoming unattached, or otherwise becoming available for mouthing or swallowing among young children. Unfortunately, these magnet safety standards only apply to children’s products and do not extend to products like Buckyballs, which are marketed toward adults.
“Pediatricians and parents spoke, and the CPSC listened,” said Dr. Block. “The AAP commends CPSC’s bold step today to help keep harmful magnetic products out of the hands and mouths of children.”