High-Powered Magnets

Small high-powered magnets can cause serious harm if they are swallowed by children. Go to your nearest hospital emergency department if you think your child has swallowed magnets.

Tamariki love to take things apart and put things in their mouths. This helps them learn about the world, so it’s important we keep harmful objects that they could swallow, out of their reach.

Small high-powered magnets, that are usually sold in sets of 100 or more, look shiny and interesting to tamariki but can cause serious harm and even death if they are swallowed. These magnets (sometimes called rare earth or neodymium magnets) are 5 to 10 times stronger than traditional magnets and are found in items like BuckyBalls and Cubes, jewellery, office supplies and desk toys. They are usually round and sometimes shiny and colourful.

While they have been banned for sale in Aotearoa since 2014, these magnets continue to cause harm to children who have swallowed them. These products are sometimes still found for sale online and in homes.

When two or more high-powered magnets are swallowed they can connect up from different parts the digestive tract and cause serious injury like causing holes in the intestines that would require surgery or result in death. Tamariki have been reported to have swallowed up to 40 small magnets in some cases! Older children have also been affected when they have used these small high-powered magnets as fake piercing jewellery in their mouths and noses.

Tamariki may swallow these magnet without anyone noticing. Some common symptoms of
children who have swallowed high-powered magnets include vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. Since these symptoms are so common in children, you may not realise that they have swallowed magnets right away. It is important to take steps to prevent these injuries before they happen.

Top safety Tips

  • The best way to protect tamariki form high-powered magnets is to not have any at all

  • Search your home, and any place your child goes, for magnets or any gadgets that may contain small high-powered magnets

  • Keep these magnets out of sight and reach of children

  • Teach older children about the risks of using these magnets as fake piercings in their mouths or noses as they can be mistakenly swallowed or inhaled

  • Know and understand the dangers of these products

  • Share this information with friends, whānau and caregivers

First Aid:
If you think your child has swallowed high-powered magnets, go straight to the nearest hospital emergency department. Do not delay.

Tell reception, nurses and doctors that you think your child may have swallowed magnets.