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Kids who swallow magnets often end up hospitalized: study

Photo: Beisea/iStockphoto

Columbus, OH — Nearly 3 out of 5 children treated for injuries related to swallowing or inserting high-powered magnets used in toys require a hospital stay, results of a recent study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital show.

A 2012 Consumer Product Safety Commission rule prohibited the sale of the magnets, which were removed from the market from 2012 through 2016. The researchers sought to study the years immediately after a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the ban.

Data from nearly 600 children who had swallowed or inserted magnets between 2017 and 2019 showed that 55.7% required hospitalization. In addition, 9.6% experienced a life-threatening injury such as bowel obstruction, perforation, infection, bleeding, fistulae or twisted intestines.

An overwhelming majority of the children – 95% – were younger than 14.


“The injuries caused by high-powered magnets are common, serious and costly,” lead study author Leah Middelberg, an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a press release. “It’s so important to keep these kinds of magnets out of reach of children, and ideally out of the home.”

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the journal Pediatrics.

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