Some magnetic toys unsafe for kids, warns Enterprise Singapore after serious incidents overseas

SINGAPORE - Parents who have bought magnetic toys for their children beware: the magnets could cause serious harm if ingested by children.

In a statement on Monday (Sept 2), Enterprise Singapore, the regulatory agency for product safety of consumer goods, said 10 samples of magnetic toys it tested in August were found to be unsafe.

The suppliers of these toys have since been told to stop selling them. Consumers who bought these toys for children should also make sure that their children stop playing with them immediately.

Referring to two types of magnetic toys - magnetic block sets and magnetic balls, more commonly known as "Buckyballs" - Enterprise Singapore cited two serious incidents in the United States and China where surgery had been required after two children accidentally swallowed the toys.

In China, a 14-month-old boy swallowed 21 magnetic balls and had to undergo emergency surgery after the balls formed a ring in his stomach.

"The tiny magnets can attract each other through the intestines, and potentially result in injuries such as perforation, scarring or infection," Enterprise Singapore said.

In addition, the agency also warned that plastic bags used to package the toys that do not meet safety requirements could get moulded to a child's face and cause suffocation.

Some products were also inappropriately marketed for users who were too young. For instance, Buckyballs intended for use by adults as a stress-relieving tool were advertised as toys for children.

Magcube Magnetic Cubes and Magnetic Balls. PHOTOS: ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE

To avoid inadvertently endangering children, Enterprise Singapore advised parents to buy toys only from reputable brands and sellers. Consumers can also check Enterprise Singapore's website for safety alerts issued on specific toys.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.