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Buckyballs Tear Apart Girl's Stomach After She Swallows 37 Magnetized Steel Balls

A 3-year-old Oregon girl is expected to recover after she swallowed 37 Buckyball magnets that were so strong, they tore holes in her intestine and stomach.

The girl apparently swallowed the Buckyballs because they "look[ed] like what we put on Christmas cookies," her mother told Portland's KPTV.

But Buckyballs -- marketed as "powerful rare-earth magnets" -- are not edible. What happened to the girl shows just how powerful the magnets are, and why they should be kept out of children's hands.

Buckyballs are made from a metal called neodymium and coated in nickel, gold, or silver, according to the company's website. They're sold in sets of 216; the balls' strong magnetic properties keep them clumped together.

After the girl swallowed the Buckyballs, she complained of flu-like symptoms for several days, Portland's KGW-TV reports.

An X-ray showed the balls clustered together in the girl's abdomen. Their magnetic powers were so strong, they ripped three holes in her intestine and stomach, KPTV reports.

"The intestine goes back and forth on top of each other," a nurse explained to KPTV. "You get two magnets in there, they snap together."

The Oregon incident is not the first involving children swallowing magnets. At least 22 similar cases have been reported since 2009, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It's not clear how many of those cases involved Buckyballs.

Buckyballs insists its products are not for children, and posted a new warning on its website after learning about the Oregon girl's incident. Buckyballs "are not toys and are not intended for children," the statement emphasizes.

The statement may be part of a strategy to avoid potential liability for Buckyball-swallowing cases -- in particular, potential marketing-defect lawsuits that allege inadequate safety warnings. Buckyballs' warnings on boxes and advertisements assert the product should be "kept away from all children."

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