Kids’ ER Visits for Swallowed Magnets Soars
THURSDAY, March 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding incidents involving children and strong magnets increased by more than 400% after a court overturned the ban on magnets, according to a new study.
“The regulations on these products have been effective, and the dramatic increase in the number of injuries from strong magnets since the ban was lifted – even compared to the numbers before the ban – is alarming,” said Dr Leah Middelberg. She is the lead author of the study and an emergency physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Small magnets began to appear in toys in the early 2000s and have caused thousands of injuries. They are considered to be one of the most dangerous ingestion hazards in children, because when more than one is swallowed, the magnets attract to each other through the tissues, cutting off the blood supply to the bowel and causing blockages, tissue death, sepsis and even death, according to Nationwide Children’s.
In 2012, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) halted the sale of high-power magnet assemblies and ordered a recall. Then he introduced a rule that effectively eliminated their sale, but the United States Court of Appeals overturned the rule in December 2016.
In this study, researchers analyzed calls to U.S. poison control centers from 2008 to October 2019 for magnet exposures in children aged 19 and under. The average annual number of cases decreased by 33% between 2012 and 2017 due to the ban, but increased by 444% after it was lifted.
There has also been a 355% increase in the number of cases severe enough to require hospital treatment. The 2018 and 2019 cases increased across all age groups and accounted for 39% of magnet cases since 2008.
“The regulations on these products have been effective, and the dramatic increase in the number of injuries from high power magnets since the ban was lifted – even compared to figures before the ban – is alarming,” Middelberg said. in a hospital press release.
In all, there were over 5,700 magnet exposures during the nearly 12-year study period. Most of the calls involved boys (55%); children under 6 (62%); and unintentional injuries (84%).
Almost half (48.4%) of the patients were treated in a hospital or other health care facility, while 48.7% were treated in another site, such as a home, nursing home, work or school. Older children were more likely than younger children to be admitted to hospital.
The study was published online recently in the Pediatric Journal.
Middelberg noted that parents are not always sure if their child has swallowed something or what it has swallowed.
“They just know their child is uncomfortable – so when children are brought in, an exam and sometimes x-rays are needed to determine what is going on,” she said in a press release. of the hospital. “Because damage from magnets can be serious, it is so important to keep these types of magnets out of the reach of children, and ideally out of the house.”
Researchers support federal legislation to limit the strength and / or size of magnets sold as part of a kit, as well as the re-establishment of a federal CPSC safety standard that would effectively restrict the sale of magnetic products.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has more information on high power magnets.
SOURCE: Nationwide Children’s Hospital, press release, March 15, 2021
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