May 16, 2014
Magnets And Kids Are A Dangerous Duo
Magnet ingestions by children have received increasing attention over the past 10 years. With the growing availability of new and stronger neodymium-iron-boron magnets being sold as "toys," there has been an increase of cases of ingestion, resulting in serious injury and, in some cases, death. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the trends of magnetic ingestions at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Canada's largest children's hospital.
Of 2,722 patient visits for foreign body ingestions, 94 children met the inclusion criteria. Of those, 30 children had confirmed ingestion of multiple magnets. Overall magnet ingestions tripled from 2002-2009 to 2010-2012; the incidence of injuries involving multiple magnets increased almost 10-fold between the two time periods. Six cases required surgery for sepsis or potential for imminent bowel perforation, all of which occurred in 2010-2012. The average size of the magnets also decreased approximately 70% between 2002-2009 and 2010-2012.
This study shows a significant increase in the rate of multiple magnet-related injuries between 2002 and 2012. "More concerning, however," notes Dr. Strickland, "is the increased number of high-risk injuries featuring multiple, smaller magnets." Despite new magnet-specific toy standards, labeling requirements, product recalls, and safety advisories issued in the past 10 years, continuing efforts should focus on educating parents and children on the dangers inherent in magnetic "toys."