On Friday, May 16 2014, new research found that the number of children who have suffered injuries from swallowing magnets as increased. The study found that the number of injured children has risen in correlation with increasing number of stronger magnet toys being released.
Specifically, the study cites the introduction of small, spherical magnet sets released in 2009 as being tied to many cases. Experts warn that in some cases, magnet ingestion can be fatal. Researchers advocate for the educations of parents and children about the dangers of magnetic toys, as well as labeling requirements, toy standards, safety advisories and product recalls of these toys and novelty items.
The study examined cases of magnet ingestion at Canada’s largest children’s hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Over 2,700 emergency room visits for foreign body ingestion that occurred between April 2002 and December 2012 were analyzed by researchers. The study included only children who were under 18 and who had confirmed or suspected magnet ingestion.
Study leader Dr. Matt Strickland stated in a journal news release, “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.” Of the 94 children who met the study’s criteria, 30 had confirmed ingestion of more than one magnet.
Researchers discovered that the overall number of magnet ingestions tripled after the release of “small, spherical magnet sets” in 2009. Researchers divided the study into two periods, 2002 to 2009 and 2010 to 2012, and found that the number of injuries involving multiple magnets was nearly 10 times greater after 2009.
The study found that, of the magnet ingestion cases analyzed, six children needed surgery for sepsis or potential imminent bowel perforation. These six injuries took place between 2010 and 2012.
What’s more, the average size of ingested magnets was about 70 percent smaller after 2009 than it was in the previous years, the study revealed. “The increased number of high risk injuries featuring multiple, smaller magnets is concerning,” added Dr. Strickland. Products in question include toys with small, round magnets sets, novelty “stress relief desk toys, and fake nose or tongue piercings.
The study’s findings will be published in the Journal of Pediatrics.