High-powered magnets, button batteries hazards to children

Houston toddler recovering; Oklahoma toddler dies

SAN ANTONIO – A Houston toddler is recovering after swallowing tiny high-powered magnets while an Oklahoma toddler has died after apparently swallowing a small button battery. The incidents highlight the continued danger of children swallowing the small objects despite warnings and bans.

Ava Kendall, almost 2 years old, is now able to breathe on her own after a very close call. Two weeks ago, the toddler was rushed to the hospital after she became ill with cramping and pain.

"They did a CT scan and they saw nine little magnets across her stomach just coming up," Lexi Kendall, her mother, said. "They didn't know they were magnets, but whenever I saw them in there, I recognized them."

They were B.B.-sized magnets from a type of desk toy. The little girl had swallowed them. The magnets are so powerful that when they attached to each other they tore holes in Ava's intestine.

The toddler underwent a four-hour surgery and has battled infection.

Tiny super-strong magnets, often 10 to 30 times stronger that regular magnets, have been banned in the U.S. However, they may remain in homes.

Meanwhile a 2-year-old Jay, Oklahoma, girl died after apparently swallowing a small button battery.

The lithium cell batteries are found in common household items from remote controls, key fobs, talking books and even talking greeting cards.

More than 12,000 cases of young children swallowing the batteries have been reported in the last decade.

Most pass through the digestive system without incident. However, if they become lodged in the esophagus, the chemicals can begin burning the tissue immediately causing bleeding.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission urges parents to keep objects with accessible button cell batteries out of the reach of children. If you suspect a child has swallowed one, seek help from Poison Control or an emergency doctor immediately.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.