CPSC Issues Warning Over High-Powered Magnets
November 12, 2011

CPSC Issues Warning Over High-Powered Magnets

High-powered, ball-bearing magnets continue to pose a serious safety risk to children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned in a Thursday press release.

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, the CPSC has received 14 reports of problems related to these types of magnets -- twice as many as they had for all of 2010, and up from just a single incident in 2009. The victims in the cases ranged in age from 18 months to 15 years, and 11 of them required surgery to have the magnets removed, the November 11 article added.

The CPSC said that when two or more of the magnets are swallowed, they can become connected and cause serious injuries, "such as small holes in the stomach or intestines, intestinal blockage and blood poisoning," a story published in USA Today on Friday said.

"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent looking magnets," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress."

"I have looked at X-rays of children with magnets in their intestines, and you can see how they stick together and cause a severe blockage," Tenenbaum added in an interview with the AP.

Many of the products that contain these types of magnets are intended for adult use only, and contain labels to inform consumers of that fact, the commission said in their press release.

"Although this is CPSC's first product wide public warning about high-powered ball-bearing magnets used in adult products, the agency has issued safety alerts previously about the dangers of powerful magnets falling out of children's toys," officials from the organization said in their press release.

"In April 2007, CPSC issued a warning about the possibility of high-powered magnets detaching from children's toys, such as building sets, causing injuries and death. At that time, CPSC was aware of the death of a 20-month-old child and of 33 incidents involving children who had swallowed magnets. Of these 33 incidents, 19 children required surgery to remove the magnets. Since 2008, CPSC has received more than 200 reports of children swallowing magnets and at least 18 of those children required emergency surgery to remove the magnets," they added.

The CPSC advises that all small magnets, including the high-powered ball-bearing style ones, be kept away from any young children who could swallow them. They suggest regularly inspecting toys and play areas for missing or loose magnets, and to seek medical attention immediately if you believe that children have swallowed a magnet or are showing signs of abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.


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