Why Children Swallow Magnets and How To Prevent It

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2013-08-12 06:47

If you are a parent or caregiver, you are likely aware of the dangers associated with young children swallowing batteries and other small objects. Now a new study warns adults to note a significant increase in the number of children who swallow magnets and how they can take steps to prevent these episodes.

Why are magnets a problem?

You might ask yourself, “Why are kids swallowing magnets?” Is there something especially appealing or magical about magnets?

Although magnets may not be magic, they seem to hold some fascination for young children. In fact, according to the authors of the new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the number of cases of children swallowing magnets has risen more than fivefold over the last decade, and the consequences have frequently been serious enough to require surgery.

Magnets are a serious swallowing hazard for the same reason button batteries and other small objects are dangerous: kids are curious and have a tendency to stick items into their mouth, ears, nose, or even their genital area. According to the University of Washington investigators, the incidence of injury associated with ingesting magnets was 0.57 cases per 100,000 children (younger than 21 years) between 2002 and 2003, but that number rose to 3.06 cases per 100,000 between 2010 and 2011.

Investigators evaluated 893 cases of magnet ingestion. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of magnets ingested were swallowed, according to the study, while 21% were placed into the nostrils. Surprisingly, however, less than one quarter (23.4%) of the magnets kids took in internally were reported to be tiny or small, which means more substantial magnets are being ingested, exposing children to a chance for more significant damage.

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