Small magnets pose big risk to kids: study

Toronto – The increased availability of small, powerful “button” magnets has accompanied a threefold increase in children who are injured by swallowing the objects, according to a study from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Canada.

When multiple magnets are swallowed, they can become attracted to each other within the body, causing bowl injuries and even death, the study states.

Researchers analyzed ingestion trends at the hospital after the 2009 introduction of small, spherical magnet sets in toys. Magnet ingestions tripled between the time periods of 2002-2009 and 2010-2012, and injuries involving multiple magnets increased by nearly 10 times. The average size of magnets decreased by almost 70 percent between the two time periods.

Children required surgery in six cases – all in 2010-2012, according to the study.

Researchers said continuing efforts are needed to educate parents and children about the dangers of ingesting magnets.

The study was published online May 19 in the Journal of Pediatrics.