Tiny Magnets can Cause Serious Injuries in Children
Even though toys are meant to be played with, many young children end up accidentally swallowing small pieces, which can lead to potentially fatal situations. In a new repot, researchers found that injuries caused by swallowing tiny magnets have increased over the years. The findings suggest that companies and parents need to do a better job at preventing these injuries.
For this study, the researchers examined the rate of injuries caused by toys by looking at the trends that occurred at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, which is Canada's largest children's hospital. From April 2002 through to December 2012, there were more than 2,700 children under the age of 18 that were brought to the emergency room for foreign body 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 according to WebMD.
Out of all the cases, 94 of them applied to the study's parameters. 30 out of the 94 cases were in children who swallowed more than one magnet. Out of the 30 cases, six of the children need surgery. All of the injuries occurred from 2010 to 2012.
"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," Strickland said.
When the team only looked at magnet cases based on two different time periods, they found that the ingestion rates increased over time. From the time period between 2002 and 2009, to 2010 to 2012, the number of children who ingested magnets tripled. In 2009, small, spherical magnet sets were introduced onto the market and after that year, the number of magnet related injuries spiked by around 10 times.
"With the inclusion of smaller, spherical magnets in children's toys, we are seeing an increased number of visits to the hospital for surgeries to remove them from the gastrointestinal tract," Strickland said reported by FOX News. "Today's magnets are also 20 times more powerful than older magnets, with the potential to cause more damage."
The study was published in Pediatrics.