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CPSC Warns High-Powered Magnets a Big Threat to Kids | Ormond Beach Child Injury Lawyer

CPSC Warns High-Powered Magnets a Big Threat to Kids

High-powered magnets continue to be a serious safety risk to children, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission

An increasing number of children, from toddlers to teenagers, are swallowing these magnets according to incident reports from the CPSC, and the consequences can be severe.

Although the particular risk may differ by age group, the danger is the same. Two or more magnets that are swallowed can attract internally, resulting in great injuries, like small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death.

Reports of such incidents involving high-powered ball-bearing magnets continue to rise. In 2009, CPSC received one one incident report, followed by seven in 2010 and 14 as of October 2011. These 22 incidents have involved children from the age 18 months to 15 years old. Of those incidents, 17 involved the ingestion of magnets and a total of 11 required surgical removal of the magnets. The surgical removal of magnets typically requires the repair of a child’s damaged intestines and stomach.

“We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent looking magnets,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress.”

High-powered magnets and magnet components that are of a size that can be swallowed are prohibited in toys for children younger than age 14. All of the reported incidents involve magnets from desk toys and stress relievers for adults who use the magnets to create patterns and build shapes. Such kits may include 200 or more magnets. In some of the reported incidents, children found the loose magnets left on a table, refrigerator, sofa or the floor.

With tweens and teenagers, it’s a different story. The magnets are being unintentionally inhaled and swallowed in many cases, although there are some incidents of intentional swallowing. To mimic body piercings, older children are using two or more magnets on opposite sides of their ear lobes, tongue and nose.

Since 2008, CPSC has received more than 200 reports of children swallowing magnets and at least 18 of those children required emergency surgery to remove the magnets.

In an effort to reduce the incidents associated with magnets, CPSC staff worked with the toy industry and other stakeholders to develop a standard to prevent magnets from detaching from toys. As of 2008, this standard is mandatory, and it prohibits magnets and magnet components that are loose and of a size that could be swallowed to be in toys for children under 14 years of age.

The CPSC has launched a new magnet awareness campaign based on the rise in magnet-swallowing and misuse incidents. This includes a grassroots effort with public service videos aimed at parents and teenagers, public safety partners and social media outreach.

CPSC offers these tips and advice to avoid magnet ingestion injuries:

  • Keep small magnets away from children who might swallow them.
  • Look out for loose magnet pieces – and regularly inspect toys and children’s play areas for missing or dislodged magnets.
  • Look for abdominal symptoms, such as abdominal pains, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
  • If you suspect magnets have been swallowed, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Note that multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object in X-rays.

For more on child safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach medical malpractice attorney.

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