The “magnet” trend might sound harmless at first. People place two magnets on either side of their tongue so that it looks like they’ve got a piercing. These small magnets are not just major choking hazards, swallowing one can cause severe, even fatal, damage to internal organs.
Health experts warn about the “magnet” challenge
In the U.K., at least three children have been hospitalized after swallowing magnets for the TikTok trend.
Faye Elizabeth’s 13-year-old daughter swallowed 15 magnetic beads and required major abdominal surgery. Ellis Tripp, an 11-year-old, underwent a six-hour surgery to remove five inches of his bowel after participating in the challenge. Meanwhile, 9-year-old Jack Mason had his appendix, small bowel and part of his large bowel removed after swallowing magnets.
“It was explained to me that the damage these magnets can cause could be so extreme that he might not pull through,” Mason’s mother, Carolann McGeoch told BBC News. “Through floods of tears I then had to sign my permission to the operation, acknowledging that ‘anything could happen.'”
Gregor Walker, a pediatric surgeon involved with Mason’s treatment at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow released a statement to BBC News.
“Increasing awareness is extremely important and this is another example of the hazards of swallowing magnets, which seems to have been happening more frequently over the last two years,” Walker said. “In our hospital, 20% of the children who swallow magnets have required a procedure, with 10% requiring major surgery.”
TikTok reacts to the “magnet” challenge
“We do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies behavior that might lead to injury,” a TikTok spokesperson said. “Our safety team uses a range of measures to keep our community safe, and we have been conducting additional proactive searches to detect content of this nature. While we have not yet found evidence that this is a trend, we will continue to stay vigilant and take action when necessary.”
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