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Parents be aware this holiday season: Magnets in children's toys pose significant health risk
Date:12/10/2008

CINCINNATI While the danger of magnets for children is increasingly recognized, they don't receive treatment for swallowing them as quickly as needed, and parents don't receive sufficient warning on toys, according to a new study.

The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center work shows that a growing number of adults know about the potential risk of swallowing magnets, but medical complications from magnets continue to be extensive worldwide and throughout childhood. The study which identified 128 instances of magnet swallowing across 21 countries published online in the Journal of Pediatric Radiology, urges parents to be particularly careful as they decide which toys their children should have and to be aware of deceptively mild symptoms that may indicate a child has swallowed multiple magnets.

"The majority of swallowed magnetic objects were components of toy sets, including many well-known brands," says Dr. Alan Oestreich, MD, professor of radiology at Cincinnati Children's and author of the study. "Many of the children represented in the survey were 5 years of age or younger and dependant on their parents or guardians to ensure they do not have access to multiple small magnets."

The study's findings are especially relevant this time of year as parents and families are shopping for holiday gifts for children. As the focus of toy safety is top of mind for many shoppers, it is important also to note that toy manufacturers are not required to include written warnings on packaging for toy sets including magnets.

"While many children in the study were under the age of 3, it should not be perceived that the problem is restricted to toddlers," stated Dr. Oestreich. "Because a minority of patients were infants and toddlers, the question of why the objects were swallowed was of interest. The children stated reasons such as 'I thought it was funny' or 'I liked the flavor of magnets' among other reasons."

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Contact: Kate Kossmann Setter
katherine.setter@cchmc.org
513-636-1297
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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