Strong magnets causing injuries in children
THE increasing availability of very strong magnets in small sizes is proving a hazard to children, physicians warn.
Reported injuries in Australia include bowel perforation following ingestion, and trauma from sensitive body parts being clamped between two magnets.
Data representing a quarter of all Queensland hospital emergency departments shows 105 children required treatment following magnet ingestion or injury in the past ten years, with 70% occurring in the last five years.
The report, in the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit Bulletin (QISU Bulletin No. 109, March 2010), follows a case series on three Queensland children who sustained bowel perforations due to ingestion of multiple magnets which adhered to either side of intestinal tissue (MJA 2009;190(2):98).
The children presented with abdominal pain and vomiting, and were initially treated for gastroenteritis.Most of the magnets causing injury to children were in toys, but other sources included fridge magnets and magnetic jewellery.
Most injuries were from ingestion, including choking and injury to the alimentary tract, but injuries also occurred from insertion into bodily orifices such as nose or rectum, or from two magnetic pieces sandwiching an external body part such as a foreskin or an eyelid.
The Australian Government was moving to address the hazard posed by these new strong (“high flux”) magnets with new label warnings on toys from July, but it may be better to limit the availability of strong magnets in all household products, the authors said.