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A Potentially Fatal Attraction

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Dr. Dave Hnida By Dr. Dave Hnida
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Neodymium-iron-boron is a chemical mouthful, which when it literally becomes a mouthful, can cause life-threatening injuries, particularly to young children.

A study in the Journal Pediatrics looks at this new super powerful type of magnet and the jump in kids who have needed emergency treatment or surgery after gobbling down these “attractive treats.” The chemical compounds that are in these new magnets have only been available since 2009, and are 20X more powerful than magnets of old.

These spherical magnets are typically found in grownup adult desk trinkets, or jewelry kits, selling under names such as “Buckeyballs” or “Zen Magnets.” Smaller than a marble, they usually come in sets of 200 or so. Easy to swallow — and easy to swallow in bunches.

The products carry warning labels, yet a warning label can seem like a gift wrapped invitation to a youngster who spies one of these shiny, round balls that just seems to perfect to stick in a mouth.

And as you’d figure, they are then easily swallowed, where they either:

1) Cause intestines and stomach to be magnetized to each other (which obviously can cause twisting and blockage)

or

2) Eat through the lining of the intestines or stomach, causing a perforation.

One major problem is that the magnets may not cause symptoms right away. Sometimes it’s hours or days after swallowing. By then the damage has been done.

Bottom line, the warning labels are for us grownups. Read ‘em so you don’t weep. The last thing you need is a kid with a mouthful, or stomach-full, of powerful magnets.

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