Surgeons Remove 36 Magnetic Balls from Intestines of One-Year-Old Girl

Children will put almost anything in their mouths. Most items come out the other, often with few issues, but there are some ingestible items that can place a child at serious risk.

Surgeons Remove 36 Magnetic Balls from Intestines of One-Year-Old Girl
Image via Asia Wire

Such is the case with strong magnets.

The risk is so great, in fact, that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) changed the standards for children’s toys and products. Their hope was that, by excluding strong magnets from child products, the risk would decrease.

Unfortunately, these products remain on the market. Often, they’re labeled as “stress relief” items for adults. Parents are advised to keep them out of reach of children, but they still manage to get a hold of them.

Dozens of surgeries have been performed to remove these magnetic balls from the intestines of children. Sometimes, the consequences are dire.

Even while inside the body, these magnets can attract, causing perforations and even knotting of the intestines. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has anecdotal reports involving dozens of fistulas, bowel resections, endoscopies, and other serious gastrointestinal issues.

The greater the strength of the magnet, the greater the risk.

For a one-year-old girl in China, the long-term consequences could be severe.

She’d swallowed a total of 36 magnetic balls, possibly one by one. It wasn’t until she started complaining of a stomachache that her parents realized something was wrong.

Upon arrival to the hospital, doctors performed an X-ray of the girl’s stomach. Immediately, they spotted the cause of her pain. The balls had strung together, perforating two separate holes in her intestines.

“Because of the magnetic power, all the swallowed balls attached and damaged the intestine,” Dr. Lin Xiaokun, the surgeon who removed the balls, told AsiaWire. “Especially when balls attached between intestines. It will cause anabrosis in the intestines. That’s why there are two holes in the girl’s intestines.”

Xiaokun had to repair the girl’s intestines during the hour-long surgery.

She’s now recovering in the hospital. At this time, there is no additional news on her current condition.

Our thoughts are with the family and we hope the little girl makes a full and speedy recovery.

Doctors recommend that take their child to the emergency room immediately if they suspect their child has swallowed or inhaled a magnet.

In these situations, prompt care can be critical.


About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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