Friday, July 13, 2012

Swallowed magnets are dangerous

Powerful, rare earth (neodymium) magnets are widely available in consumer and industrial products
o Desk or office toys
o Toys
o Office supplies
o Jewelry
o Pain relief products
o Machines and tools
§ These magnets usually are small in size and round in shape, like BBs or ball bearings. Magnet ball brand names include BuckyBalls™ and Neocube™
§ Though intended for adult use, they are difficult to keep out of the reach of children
o Shiny and attractive to toddlers
o Used by “tweens” and teens to mimic body piercing jewelry
§ Extremely powerful magnetic attractions are produced
o When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnetic force can bring two pieces of intestine tightly together, and make holes in the intestines
§ Magnet ingestion can lead to bowel injury, blockage or severe infection
o Over 200 documented cases of children swallowing these magnets
o Most require emergency procedures for removal
o Some require major surgery
What can parents do?
o Keep tiny ultra-powerful magnets out of the reach of infants and toddlers
o Educate your older children and teens about the risks of swallowing these magnets. These magnets are not children’s toys.
o If your toddler or child swallows these magnets, immediately call your doctor or go to the emergency department. 

HT: Don Cameron
Paediatric Gastroenterologist Royal Children Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

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