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KARE 11 Investigates: Once-banned magnets sending kids to ER

Doctors warn that children are swallowing high-powered rare earth magnet balls marketed as desk toys for adults – sending thousands of kids to the hospital.

Lauren Leamanczyk

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Published: 6:34 PM CDT August 11, 2021
Updated: 3:38 PM CDT August 17, 2021

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Aug.17, federal regulators announced the recall of nearly 10 million high powered toy magnets – sold individually and in sets – distributed by Zen Magnets and Neoballs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission cited the danger to children who accidentally swallow them. Read details about the recall here: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/Zen-Magnets-and-Neoballs-Magnets-Recalled-Due-to-Ingestion-Hazard

The x-rays taken of Ed and Tina Scruggs’ daughter look almost fake. You can see the line of 18 magnet balls stuck in her digestive system after their 11-year-old accidentally swallowed them.

“I think she told me she was trying to do a tongue ring,” Ed Scruggs said.  

Their daughter is one of thousands of kids who’ve wound up in the hospital after accidentally ingesting rare earth magnet balls. The injuries often require surgery to repair perforated intestines caused when the high-powered magnets clamp together.

The magnets are marketed as stress relieving toys for people over the age of 14. They can be as much as 10 times more powerful than typical magnets. Name brands include Buckyballs and Speks – though there are many kinds available on Amazon.

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