Health Warnings

Warning After Toddler Swallows 32 Magnet Balls While in Isolation

With our kids home more, there is an even greater risk of our kiddies getting into something that they shouldn’t. This is especially the case with our ultra-curious toddlers.

It’s every mum’s worst nightmare they may swallow something dangerous they find lying around.

Melbourne mum Teigan Brown had this nightmare come true when BOTH of her young daughters managed to open a toy and dig the ‘ball-bearing-style’ magnets out. They then proceeded to do what toddlers do best – stick them in their mouths.

Toddler swallows magnet balls 

Teigan said she left her girls Imogen and Heidi, “for two seconds” when they got into the toy.

“I didn’t realise the girls had the toy until [Heidi] came in and said the little one [Imogen] had put one in her mouth and swallowed it,” Brown told reporters.

“I thought, okay, it was just one … so I kept a close eye on her.”

Trip to ER results in emergency surgery 

The next morning Teigan noticed Imogen, 2, acting unsettled with a high temperature. She took her to the hospital where an X-ray confirmed that yes, Imogen had swallowed a magnet. 32 of them to be exact. Sister Heidi was found to have swallowed two of them.

Imogen required emergency surgery at Victoria’s Monash Children’s Hospital to extract the magnets before they damaged her insides completely. Thankfully, she is okay and is now recovering in hospital.

Concerning spike in hospital visits during isolation

However, Imogen’s scary experience is only one of the many stories of toddlers and young children swallowing dangerous items around the house, especially during isolation.  There is a “concerning spike” in children being admitted to hospital and often magnets and button batteries are to blame.

Paediatric surgeon Dr Chris Kimber said that four children have been admitted to Victorian children’s hospitals for magnet ingestion in the last three weeks, in contrast to the “odd case” in the last three years.

Three of those cases required major surgery, with the children suffering multiple holes in their bowels.

According to Dr Kimber, magnetic balls are often found in older children’s toys, such as plastic building blocks. As anyone who has a toddler and an older child will know, toddlers LOVE big kid toys, especially pulling them apart and eating what they find.

Why are magnets so dangerous?

Dr Kimber explains that the reason these magnets are so dangerous is not only because they are a choking hazard but because they can cause serious damage to your insides.

“What happens is you have a magnet in one area of the bowel and another magnet in another area, and they attract each other and burn a hole through,” Kimber explained.

“If there are blood vessels in the way, they erode through them and cause significant bleeding.” These injuries can be “catastrophic” and potentially life-threatening.

What should parents do if their toddler swallows a magnet

According to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, if parents suspect a child has swallowed a magnet, they shouldn’t induce vomiting. Instead, call TRIPLE ZERO for an ambulance or report to their nearest hospital emergency department immediately. 

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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