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Magnet Sets Continue to Pose Serious Ingestion Hazard for Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael R. Flaherty, DO Attending, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Co-Director, Trauma and Injury Prevention Outreach Program, MGH Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02114

Dr. Flaherty

Michael R. Flaherty, DO
Attending, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
Co-Director, Trauma and Injury Prevention Outreach Program, MGH
Instructor in Pediatrics,
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02114

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 

Response: This study was a joint collaboration between Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found an increasing incidence of rare earth magnet ingestions by children causing serious injury; Injuries are particularly serious when a child ingests two of these small magnets, or a magnet with another metal object – this can lead to bowel walls becoming attached and kinked, leading to catastrophic bowel injury and/or death.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission initiated campaigns to limit sales in 2012 with voluntary recalls and safety standards, as well as public awareness campaigns, legislative advocacy, and lawsuits. In October 2014, the CPSC published their final rule, “Safety Standard for Magnet Sets,” which prohibited the sale of magnets based on a pre-specified size and power scale, essentially eliminating the ability to sell SREMs. This rule was appealed by largest manufacturer of these magnets, Zen Magnets, LLC., and in November 2016 this rule was legally reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit resulting in a resurgence of these magnets on the market.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We set out to examine trends in emergency department (ED) visits for magnet ingestions in children during the various federal rule changes between 2009-2019. We found nearly 37,000 ED visits for magnet ingestions in patients under the age of 18, the highest in those under age 6;

When looking at the different periods, there was a significant drop in ED visits for magnet ingestions immediately after the Consumer Product Safety Commission ban, followed by an 80% increase in ED visits for magnet ingestions following the rule reversal between 2017-2019.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Products with high-powered magnets (SREMs) really should not be in any home with children under 14; The significant reduction in ED visits associated with the CPSC’s initial ban indicate that further federal action is necessary and that industry standards should be revisited. It is clear from our results that warning labels are not enough; More needs to be done at the federal and industry level to protect our children from this danger.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study

Response: More research is needed to look at the severity of the injuries, need for surgical interventions or other procedures, etc.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: As the holiday season approaches, product-related hazards such as these magnets become even more of an important issue; Parents should always read labels carefully before buying any toys or toy sets for their children or home to ensure they are age appropriate, and consult the CPSC website to check on recent toy recalls.

No disclosures.

Citation:

Flaherty MR, Buchmiller T, Vangel M, Lee LK. Pediatric Magnet Ingestions After Federal Rule Changes, 2009-2019. JAMA. 2020;324(20):2102–2104. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.19153

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