-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, May 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- As the number of new
and stronger magnet toys being sold has increased, so has the
number of kids who have suffered serious injuries after swallowing
a magnet, according to new research.
In some cases, magnet ingestions can be fatal, experts warn.
Researchers cautioned that in addition to toy standards,
labeling requirements, safety advisories and product recalls,
efforts to educate parents and children on the dangers of magnetic
toys and novelty items such as fake piercings should continue.
In conducting the study, researchers examined magnetic ingestion
trends at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada's
largest children's hospital. The investigators analyzed over 2,700
emergency room visits for foreign body ingestion that occurred from
April 2002 through December 2012.
The findings are scheduled for publication in
The Journal of Pediatrics.
To be included in the study, the children had to be under 18
years old and have a confirmed or suspected magnet ingestion. "We
chose to limit our scope to the alimentary tract because the
majority of serious harm from magnets arises from perforations and
fistulae of the stomach, small bowel and colon," study leader Dr.
Matt Strickland said in a journal news release.
The researchers identified 94 children who met the study's
criteria. Of these children, 30 had confirmed ingestion of more
than one magnet.
When dividing the study years into two periods -- 2002 to 2009,
and 2010 to 2012 -- the investigators found that overall magnet
ingestions tripled after the introduction of small, spherical
magnetic sets in 2009. Moreover, the number of injuries involving
multiple magnets was nearly 10 times greater after 2009.
Of the magnet ingestion cases examined, six children needed
surgery for sepsis or potential for imminent bowel perforation. All
six of these injuries took place between 2010 and 2012, the
The study also revealed that the average size of ingested
magnets was about 70 percent smaller after 2009 than it was in the
earlier time period.
"The increased number of high-risk injuries featuring multiple, smaller magnets" -- such as those used as so-called stress relief desk toys or as fake tongue or nose piercings -- is "concerning," noted Strickland.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about
kids and magnet safety.
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