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Buckyballs incident draws attention to dangers of magnets as toys

Toddler hospitalized after swallowing 37 magnets

Buckyballs, advertised as “the world’s best selling desk toy,” have been featured in the media lately after 3-year-old Payton Bushnell was hospitalized in Oregon after swallowing 37 of the magnets.

Parents Aaron and Kelli Bushnell never suspected Buckyballs when the toddler complained about stomach pain. The initally thought it was just a stomach ache.
 When the symptoms persisted, her parents finally took her to the doctor and an X-ray at Children’s Hospital on the weekend revealed a circular grouping of magnets. According to her parents, Payton had swallowed the Buckyballs one by one, and the magnetic force had caused all 37 magnets to merge inside her belly.

“By taking the x-ray, they saw that the circle had formed,” said Kelli, “They thought she swallowed a bracelet.”

The Buckyballs were so strong, they tore a hole in Payton’s lower intestine and in her stomach. The doctors removed the magnets from Payton Bushnell’s intestines Monday, and she is expected to make a full recovery.

In a statement on their website, Buckyballs said that they were “saddened” to hear about the incident, but that it “underscores the fact that Buckyballs and Buckycubes are for adults. They are not toys and are not intended for children. We urge all consumers to read and comply with the warnings we place on all our products, on our website and in stores. Please keep these products out of the hands and reach of all children.”

Although magnets might seem harmless, they are not ideal as toys. They can be especially dangerous if a child swallows them, and the toys link together in the digestive tract, which can cause a perforation of the intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning or even death.

Health officials have been combating this problem for years. In 2005, a 2-month-old boy died after swallowing nine cylindrical magnets that came from a toy building set meant for older children. By 2006, 19 other magnet-related injuries had been reported. The U.S government has since issued a warning about the risks of magnets as toys.

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