"Buckyball" magnets draw concerns for area doctors - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

"Buckyball" magnets draw concerns for area doctors

AMARILLO, TX- A magnetic toy growing in popularity is leading to growing concerns among doctors.

Three children this year in Amarillo have undergone surgery after swallowing paperweight magnets known as "Buckyballs."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has gone as far as filing a lawsuit against the maker of the company, Maxfield and Oberton. The agency says the toy could result in someone's death if something isn't done soon.

"They're pretty and cute," Jeanie Jaramillo with the Texas Panhandle Poison Control Center said. "They (children and teens) like to play with them and for some reason they put them in their mouth and some will end up ingesting them."

While children mistake them for candy, teens are using them to mock lip and tongue piercings.

The beads may be all fun and games, but doctors say they can also be extremely dangerous.

"If you swallow them, it's strong enough of a magnet that it can actually catch on itself as it passes through the bowel," Dr. Todd Bell with the Texas Tech Health Science and Research Center said. "The magnet can cause problems in the bowel or lining of the bowel or obstruct the gut."

We placed calls into Amarillo Urgent Care to see whether they have experienced any problems with children or teens ingesting these magnetics. The communications director, Tricia Plumley, said she didn't know what we were talking about. We sent her an email with documents on the product, but nobody ever called us back or replied to our email.

Northwest Texas Hospital did get in touch with us, but informed us they don't yet have the technology to specifically trace these specific cases.

The CPSC says a lawsuit was filed only after the agency asked Maxfield and Oberton to stop producing the magnets. The maker says they have adequate warning labels listed on their products and have not stopped production.

Even if the lawsuit is successful, doctors say it won't completely eliminate the problem because there are already a half dozen "knock off" brands not listed in the lawsuit that are selling the same product in specialty shops and online web sites.

 

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