Lazada removes listings of magnetic toys after S'pore girl swallowed 14 magnetic balls & punctured intestine

These tiny magnetic balls are hazardous when ingested.

Fiona Tan | June 10, 2022, 08:25 PM

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Online marketplace Lazada has removed listings that sell a toy that consists of 216 individual small magnetic balls.

This move comes after a nine-year-old girl in Singapore swallowed the tiny magnetic balls and had to undergo four-hour emergency surgery to remove 14 of such balls, each ranging between 3mm by 5mm in diameter, from her digestive tract.

The magnetic strength of the small balls tore a hole in the nine-year-old girl's small intestine. Two stretches of her small intestine, measuring 3.5cm and 6.5cm, were found to be damaged irreversibly and had to be cut out.

The magnetic balls remained attracted to one another whilst being in different parts of the girl's intestines. That caused a blockage that made her nauseous and vomit multiple times.

She was ill for two weeks and lost a significant amount of weight as she was unable to keep food down. Fortunately, she has recovered smoothly.

Listings removed from Lazada

The Consumer Product Safety Office (CPSO) contacted Lazada to remove all related listings from their website after the incident, according to 8World News,

While most listings have been removed, a listing of the product remains on the e-commerce platform, as of the time of writing.

The listing's description stated that the toy was not suitable for those below the age of 14.

Image screenshot from Lazada website on June 10, 2022.

Image screenshot from Lazada website on June 10, 2022.

A search for the product on Shopee, another e-commerce marketplace, returned no results.

The same search yielded multiple listings on Qoo10, where the product was likely still available for purchase.

Image screenshot from Qoo10 website.

The danger of such magnetic toys

Prior to this incident, some retailers on Lazada touted the toy as one for children's development.

Magnetic balls sold as children's toy on Lazada. Screenshot on June 6, 2022 from Lazada's website.

This is despite a 2019's Enterprise Singapore advisory about the dangers of such magnetic toys.

The agency said that sellers hawking these toys must indicate that these products are not suitable for those below the age of 14, reported 8World News, as the highly magnetic balls could potentially be hazardous when ingested.

Thomson Medical Centre's paediatric surgeon Nidhu Jasm, who attended to the little girl, told Mothership that because the toy had hundreds of these magnetic balls, it was easy for the magnetic balls to go missing.

In such scenarios, there is a potential for things to go awry for the children owning these toys before their parents notice that something has gone amiss.

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Top image courtesy of Thomson Medical Centre and screenshot from Lazada