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NHS calls for ban on tiny magnets because TikTok trend is leading teens to accidentally swallow them

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NHS calls for ban on tiny magnets because TikTok trend is leading teens to accidentally swallow them

At least 65 children have been admitted to hospital after accidentally swallowing tiny magnets due to a viral TikTok trend.

A prank circulating on the video-sharing social network involves using tiny magnets as fake tongue piercings has led children as young as eighteen months old to swallow the metal balls, with NHS England issuing a patient safety alert earlier this month.

The viral prank sees people placing two magnets less than 6mm in diameter on either side of their tongue and wiggling them around to create the illusion that the piercing is real.

Unlike traditional magnets, the tiny balls are powerful in magnetism and can be easily swallowed.

Ingesting more than one magnet can be life-threatening and cause significant damage within hours, as the balls are forced together in the intestines or bowels, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is cut off.

Eighteen-month-old twins Louie and Jesse Houlden both ingested several magnets that had been bought as toys for their older siblings.

A scan revealed that Louie had swallowed 23 magnets which closed into a loop in his intestines and required emergency surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. Both boys have since recovered.

Professor Simon Kenny, paediatric surgeon and national clinical director for children and young people at NHS England, wants the magnets – which are widely sold as creative toys – to be banned.

He said: “There is nothing fun for children or their parents about surgery to remove magnets that have been swallowed and become stuck together through different parts of the intestines, or the long-term physical problems and internal scarring that can be left behind.

“I would urge parents to be aware of the dangers associated with magnetic toys but ultimately, the only way we can prevent future incidents is to stop these items being sold altogether.”

According to the NHS, there has been a rise in hospital admissions among older children as teenagers take part in the online craze.

The NHS has urged people not to wait for symptoms if magnets are swallowed and said they should seek help at A&E immediately.

Natasha Crookes, of the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA), said: “The BTHA believes the law should change to classify these types of products as toys so they have to meet strict toy safety regulations.

“That would mean a change in design to ensure the magnets are covered by a casing too large to swallow.”

Additional reporting by Press Association


All content in this article is for informational purposes only and in no way serves as investment advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies, commodities and stocks is very risky and can lead to capital losses.

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