New Orleans – Survey findings released today by the
North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
(NASPGHAN) provide compelling evidence that the use of warning labels in
marketing and packaging of high-powered magnet sets have not been effective in
preventing the ingestion of these magnets by infants, children and teenagers.
the past 10 years, there have been at least 480 cases of high-powered magnet
ingestions, with 204 of those cases occurring in the past 12 months, according
to the survey, which provides the first epidemiological evidence of the extent
of magnet ingestion injuries in U.S. children. Of the reported cases, 80 percent required
endoscopic or surgical intervention. The study found that the majority of
magnet ingestions (51 percent) occurred in children 1 to 6 years of age,
although ingestions also occurred among adolescents and teenagers, who use the
magnets to mimic tongue, lip and nose piercings.
delivered the survey to 1,747 of its members in August 2012 and received
reports of magnet ingestions from 354 pediatric gastroenterologists in
response. Survey results may not capture the most severe magnet ingestion
cases, which may be sent directly to surgery and are not initially seen or
managed by a pediatric gastroenterologist.
magnet ingestion cases reported involve high-powered magnets commonly sold in
sets of 100 or more balls that are often spherical in shape and about 3 to 6
millimeters in size. Most of these magnets are made from an alloy of neodymium,
iron and boron and exhibit a strong attractive force. If more than one magnet
is swallowed, the magnets will attempt to connect with each other inside the
body. When this happens the magnets can tear holes in the stomach and bowel and
cause severe, life-threatening complications within hours.
the children requiring surgical intervention, in almost all cases, those
children also required sedation and single or multiple x-rays. Of the cases
requiring surgical intervention, 16 percent resulted in bowel resection – or
removal of part of the bowel – which can have long-term health implications.
Sixty-two percent of
the interventions were for repair of perforation (a hole in the wall at any
location in the gastrointestinal tract) or fistula (an abnormal connection or
passageway between two parts of the gastrointestinal tract).
“Ingesting two or more of these super-strength magnets is
unlike swallowing a marble or other small foreign body,” said Athos Bousvaros, MD, NASPGHAN
president. “Damage from these magnets
begins soon after ingestion. When the intestinal wall separates two or more
magnets that attract each other, holes in the bowel can occur. Time is of the essence with a high-powered
magnet ingestion. Yet, bowel damage can be difficult to diagnose, especially in
toddlers who can’t convey they have swallowed magnets."
2008, high-powered magnet sets were introduced in the consumer market and
generally marketed as adult desk toys. The product was initially labeled for
use by children 13 years of age and older. Since 2010, high-powered magnet sets
have been labeled for consumers 14 years of age and older, and most include
warnings to keep the product away from children. The survey results confirm
that magnet ingestions and resulting injuries to children continue despite
labels and warnings.
improved warnings, the prevalence of high-powered magnet ingestions is
increasing, which tells us that warnings are ineffective at preventing ingestions,”
said Robert Noel, MD, a pediatric
gastroenterologist and lead author of the study. “The most effective way to
prevent ingestions is to ban the sale of high-powered magnet sets.”
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has proposed a ban on certain
high-powered magnet sets, a move strongly supported by NASPGHAN and the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
children naturally put things in their mouths as part of their development, and
pediatricians counsel parents to be aware of this risk and keep dangerous items
out of their child’s reach. But no parent can be vigilant 100 percent of the
time,” said AAP President Thomas McInerny, <MD>,
FAAP. “The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s ban is the decisive action
needed to protect young children from potentially severe injuries. For years,
the federal government has taken action to educate the public, and to change
marketing practices and labeling. Still, these products remain a serious risk
to children and teens.”
survey results will be presented at a news conference at 10:30 a.m. CT Oct. 23,
2012, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans during the AAP
National Conference & Exhibition. Presenters include:
Gilger, MD – Professor of
Pediatrics; Baylor College of Medicine & Texas Children’s Hospital
Adam Noel, MD – Associate Professor of
Pediatrics; Louisiana State University School of Medicine
Meaghin and Braylon Jordan – Magnet ingestion patient and family
in 1972, The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology
and Nutrition (NASPGHAN), with more than 1700 members, is the leading society
in the field of pediatric digestive diseases. NASPGHAN’s mission is to
advance understanding of normal development, physiology and pathophysiology of
diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver in children, improve quality
of care by fostering the dissemination of this knowledge through scientific
meetings, professional and public education, and policy development, and serve
as an effective voice for members and the profession. www.NASPGHAN.org.