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Massive Recall of Magnetic Toys in US

If it was pet food recall first, it is now a massive recall of children's toys. //

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and a leading toy manufacturer have jointly announced recall of over four million units of magnetic building sets.

Only in March 2006, the company involved, the Mega Brands, recalled 3.8 million of the magnetic building sets when one child died and four others were seriously injured after they swallowed the magnets.

Now following reports of more such injuries to children the company has announced an expanded recall.

The Mega Brands insists that sets currently at retail better retain magnets due to improved quality control, material and design changes. These products are not included in the recall.

The CPSC is aware of hundreds of complaints that magnets have fallen out of various toys and at least 33 cases where children swallowed loose magnets and required emergency surgery. In addition, a 20-month-old boy from Seattle, Washington, died. At least 1,500 incidents of magnets separating from the building pieces have been reported.

Of the 33 cases, the children ranged in age from 10 months to 11 years, the majority were older than three, and the majority were boys. All of the injuries led to hospital stays, which ranged from three to 19 days. In nearly all cases reviewed by CPSC, children had suffered intestinal perforations.

In addition to the intestinal injuries from swallowing loose magnets, the CPSC is aware of one case of intestinal perforation after a child swallowed magnetic jewelry that was being worn on the child’s tongue, two cases of intestinal perforations after children swallowed complete components of building sets containing magnets, one aspiration of a loose magnet, and one perforation of the nasal wall from nose jewelry.

At least 1,500 incidents of magnets separating from the building pieces have been reported.

“CP SC is deeply concerned about the dangers that small, powerful magnets can pose to children if swallowed,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “In order for any product recall to be effective in protecting consumers, we must significantly reduce incidents and injuries from occurring after the recall is announced."

These older sets, which were manufactured in China, contain up to 250 plastic building pieces and 1/2-inch diameter steel balls. The building pieces include 1 1/2-inch squares, 1-inch triangles, cylinder rods, flexors, connectors, x-tenders, and curves and come in an assortment of colors such as metallic, primary, translucent, and glow in the dark. Consumers should stop using the recalled magnetic sets immediately and contact Mega Brands for a comparable replacement toy.

The CPSC is also urging consumers to immediately report any incidents of loose magnets to the CPSC Hotline.

Mega Brands spokesman Alex Radmanovich said the company was not going to quibble with consumers over whether they bought the product within the recall period. "If you've got this product in the home and you feel uncomfortable, please call us," he said.

But while the CPSC said that the expanded recall includes an additional 4 million sets, making a total of about 7.8 million, Radmanovich, says even with the expanded recall the total number of sets covered is about 4 million.

As the number of toys with magnets increases, so is the number of serious injuries to children.

Within the past year, the CPSC has conducted five recalls with more than eight million products containing magnets that could come loose and fall out of the product. In the fall of 2006, the CPSC alerted parents to the emerging hazard of magnets. Even so, children continue to be treated in emergency rooms across the country for complications due to ingesting magnets or toy components with magnets.

If two or more magnets, two or more magnet components, or a magnet and another metal object are swallowed separately, they can attract to one another through intestinal walls. When this happens, parents and physicians may think that the materials will pass through the child. But with magnets this is often not the case. The magnets become trapped in the body and can twist or pinch the intestine, causing holes, blockage and infection in the intestine or blood poisoning. All of which can lead to death.

The CPSC says it is working with manufacturers, the toy industry and other stakeholders to protect children from the dangers of magnets. New voluntary standards requirements were approved on March 15th. In addition, the voluntary standards group will continue to consider additional requirements during the next year.

The commission's website has a lot more information on the problem.

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