Risk magnetic toys

From: Dr. Peter Wienecke – Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety

Magnets can be found in a wide variety of designs in toys. Magnet construction kits from which vehicles, buildings or figures can be built are known and popular, for example. They can also be integrated in the toy, e.g. to make limbs mobile or to attach items of clothing to the figure’s body. Most of them are small, individually accessible or removable magnets with sometimes high attraction.

Why can magnets be so dangerous when playing??

When playing with magnets, children can accidentally swallow smaller magnets. The possible risk of suffocation for children, especially for children under 36 months, is only one aspect.

Cases have also been reported in which teenagers accidentally swallowed magnetic balls because they wanted to pretend tongue piercing.

If another magnet or a magnetizable object is swallowed, the magnets no longer leave the body naturally. Instead, there is a mutual attraction in the gastrointestinal tract, which can cause mechanical bowel obstruction or perforation of the intestine. In the worst case, these injuries can also be fatal. In many cases, the magnets can only be removed again by surgical intervention.

How do I know that my child has swallowed magnets?

It is often not noticed at all that a child has swallowed magnets.

If two or more magnets in the intestinal tract have established their magnetic attraction, symptoms similar to the flu often appear after a few days, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach or abdominal pain.
It is not externally recognizable for doctors that it may U. is the consequences of swallowed magnets. Only an x-ray picture makes the swallowed objects visible. A necessary surgical intervention may not be considered at first, as it is assumed that the foreign body leaves the body naturally.
It is therefore (vital) important that parents clearly point out the possibility of swallowed magnets to the doctor!

Preventive measures

  • Point out clearly to children not to put magnets in their mouths.
  • Do not allow small children to play with magnetic toys unsupervised.
  • Carry out an inventory check for completeness of all individual parts of the magnetic toy.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if children are suspected of having swallowed magnets.
  • Make the doctor aware of your suspicions!

What needs to be considered when buying?

A European standard that is intended to prevent the dangers described above and that takes into account the safety regulations contained in the EU toy directive is the toy standard DIN EN 71-1. This standard specifies that toys with loose magnets or magnets that can be detached from the toy must either not exceed a specified magnetic field strength or must be large enough that they can no longer be swallowed according to this standard.

  • When buying, make sure that the CE marking is attached to the toy
  • Yet better it is, if that too GS mark (= "Certified safety") is also present

CE marking

As an external sign of recognition that the legal requirements for the safety of the toy are fulfilled, each toy must be provided with the CE marking by the manufacturer or importer. This documents the compliance of the toy with the legal ones conditions. In addition, the name and address of the manufacturer is mandatory.

GS mark

It can also do that on the toy "GS mark" to be appropriate. This symbol shows that the toy has been tested by a recognized test center and meets safety requirements that go beyond those of the EU Toy Directive.

Be especially careful when shopping online. Despite the controls by the market surveillance authorities, it cannot be completely avoided that toys with magnets are offered and can reach the market, although the legal requirements may not be complied with and this may pose a risk for children can represent.

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The Free State of Bavaria provides you with independent, science-based information on consumer protection on this website.
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer individual legal information and personal advice. We are also not allowed to warn companies that are anti-competitive.
If you still have questions about your specific situation, please contact the contact points listed under Service.


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Christina Cherry
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