Magnetic putty toys generally consist of a bag containing a small cube magnet, putty substance and sticky back googly eyes. One brand of a magnetic putty toy product has been found to contain a magnetic cube with excessive magnetic force and high levels of arsenic and lead in the putty.
There are no studies investigating the fetal effects of maternal magnetic putty handling in pregnancy, however dermal absorption of lead and arsenic following magnetic putty handling is expected to be minimal. Risk of maternal and fetal toxicity following dermal contact is therefore likely to be low, and no active management or investigation is advised for pregnant women without symptoms of arsenic or lead toxicity who have handled magnetic putty. Avoidance of further handling is recommended as a precaution.
Exposed pregnant women with symptoms suggestive of possible arsenic or lead toxicity should be managed according to the general guidance on Toxbase.org which has been issued for non-pregnant patients. Spot urine arsenic and/or whole blood lead concentrations analysis is currently only advised for women in whom symptoms of arsenic or lead toxicity have not resolved 1-2 days following exposure removal.
Maternal toxicity from arsenic or lead exposure is likely to be the major determinant of risk to the fetus, although due to the limited data available, the possibility of adverse fetal effects cannot be excluded in the absence of maternal symptoms. For further information or advice regarding fetal risk please refer to the UKTIS monographs on arsenic and lead exposure in pregnancy or contact UKTIS.
Exposure to magnetic putty at any stage in pregnancy would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy. However, other risk factors may be present in individual cases which may independently increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome. Clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case-specific risk assessments. Where exposure is associated with maternal toxicity, additional fetal monitoring may be advised and will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In order to improve data on this subject please report all cases where arsenic or lead analysis has been undertaken in pregnant women (prior to current guidance) to UKTIS.
This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to NHS health care professionals who are logged in.
If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.
If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.