December 12, 2008

Autism a factor in swallowing magnets

U.S. researchers said a child's medical or psychological status -- such as autism -- was a factor linked to swallowed magnets.

Not all children will be inclined to swallow magnets, but if a particular child displays tendencies to eat or swallow inappropriate objects, flags should be raised and special attention should be paid to ensuring that toys do not contain any type of magnetic components, study author Dr. Alan Oestreich of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center say in a statement.

The study, published in Pediatric Radiology, found a child's medical or psychological status was a factor linked to magnets swallowed by children.

While many children in the study were under the age of 3, it should not be perceived that the problem is restricted to toddlers, Oestreich said.

Magnets can look like chocolate.

Although swallowing magnets can be fatal, the flu-like symptoms can be deceptively mild at first -- nausea, vomiting, cramps or abdominal pain. If a magnet is swallowed the child should be treated immediately, Oestreich says.