Latest Craze

A leading children’s surgeon is raising awareness of the dangers of a new craze. The craze, which involves little magnetic balls, has inadvertently lead to children swallowing them.

Hull Royal Infirmary’s paediatric surgery department has already treated three children in the past three months. The children had swallowed high powered ball-bearing magnets.

Sanja Besarovic, a consultant paediatric surgeon at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, has written to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents as the latest craze where young people attempt to mimic body piercings sweeps schools.

Hull NHS magnetic ball
Ball bearings recovered from one of the children.


Ms Besarovic, known to the parents of seriously ill children in East Yorkshire as Miss B, said:

We have seen three cases in the past three months alone and I am concerned about the growing incidence of this problem. Parents and schools should be aware of this craze so they can warn children of the life-threatening risks especially if swallowed at different times. Most of children are asymptomatic and first symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting develop only after damage had been done.

Sanja Besarovic
Consultant paediatrician Sanja Besarovic,

It is believed youngsters are attempting to mimic body piercings, unaware that the magnets stick to each other through loops of gastrointestinal tract and could cause bowel perforation or intestinal blockage if they are swallowed.

Children As Young As Four

Three children, including a four-year-old, were rushed to Hull Royal after swallowing ball magnets. The four-year-old child was lucky to escape injury as the magnets stuck to each other and passed through their digestive system without complications.

However, the two others were admitted to the children’s ward with significant internal damage.

One suffered a perforated stomach and duodenum after swallowing nine ball magnets while another had a small bowel perforation. Both underwent major surgery including a laparotomy and bowel resection.

Ms Besarovic said:

We have been able to save these children but I’m growing increasingly concerned that this is happening more often. Both of the children recovered well after surgery but the next child may not be so lucky.