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

itionally, Dr. Oestreich identified the medical or psychological status of a child as a factor in why the child swallowed the magnets. Autism as a known condition was reported in 16.2% of children 4 years old and older. "Not all children will be inclined to swallow magnets, but if a particular child displays tendencies to eat or swallow inappropriate objects, flags should be raised and special attention should be paid to ensuring that toys do not contain any type of magnetic components," cautioned Dr. Oestreich.

Additionally and equally significant, the study found that most children who swallow multiple magnets do not receive treatment quickly enough. Because the symptoms can be deceptively mild and resemble flu-like illness, many parents delay taking children for medical attention. Symptoms including nausea, vomiting, cramps or abdominal pain should be treated as significant, especially if the child is autistic or has other developmental issues. "One should consider requesting a plain radiograph of the abdomen if symptoms are not immediately attributable to an illness and/or the parent suspects the child may have swallowed magnets," Dr. Oestreich says.

If not treated quickly, magnets often stick to each other across bowel wall and can cause significant problems, often leading to infection in the digestive tract. In nearly every case, surgery or endoscopy was required to remove the magnets and repair damage. One child died of sepsis before any surgery or endoscopy could be performed.

The study, a follow up to research started in 2004, concludes that public education is the best line of defense in preventing cases like those studied here. Manufacturers should make warnings about the dangers and symptoms of magnet ingestion more frequently and more dramatically evident, the study says. But until that time, it is up to parents to know the dangers of magnets and make smart decisions about what to bring into their homes.


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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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