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Magnets in Toys Pose Broad Dangers

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

When giving your child toys this holiday season, parents need to be better warned about potential health risks and symptoms of children swallowing toys with magnets. That is the warning from a new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

When ingested, multiple magnets can stick together across a bowel wall, leading to infection in the digestive tract, the need for surgery and even death. The study also found that parents often don’t seek medical attention for a child who has swallowed a magnet as quickly as necessary.

The findings are based on the analysis of 121 magnet-swallowing cases in 21 counties and were published online in the journal Pediatric Radiology.

“The majority of swallowed magnetic objects were components of toy sets, including many well-known brands,” study author Dr. Alan Oestreich, a professor of radiology at Cincinnati Children’s, said in a hospital news release. “Many of the children represented in the survey were 5 years of age or younger and dependent on their parents or guardians to ensure they do not have access to multiple small magnets.”

The authors urged parents to pay particular attention when buying toys for small children as written warnings are not mandatory on toys containing magnets.

Symptoms of ingested magnets can be mild and flu-like, but nausea, vomiting, cramps or abdominal pain should be given medical attention.

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