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Pediatric Magnet Ingestions

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            

Contact: Camille Bonta, 202-320-3658

September 13, 2013

Little Magnets = Big Problems for Young Children

Waltham, Mass.: Powerful, rare earth (neodymium) magnets can cause serious injury and death when ingested, but these injuries are entirely preventable by removing these magnets from places where children live and play, including homes, child care centers, and schools.  The topic was the focus of a recent webinar, Little Magnets = Big Problems:  Pediatric Magnet Ingestion, hosted by EDC’s Children’s Safety Network (CSN) National Resource Center for Injury and Violence Prevention.

More than 150 child safety experts and representatives of state and local health departments, maternal and child health programs, poison control centers participated in the webinar. Panelists included Andrea Rock, senior editor at Consumer Reports, Athos Bousvaros, M.D., of Boston Children’s Hospital, and R. Adam Noel, M.D., of Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHN) was a co-host for this one hour webinar.

Information presented in the webinar included statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission which reported an estimated 1,700 ingestions of magnets that were treated in emergency departments between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2011. The Commission warns that these magnets are not toys and should be kept from young children and toddlers.

Also presented were findings from a 2012 survey of pediatric gastroenterologists conducted by Dr. Noel. The survey found that ingestions are not exclusively occurring in younger age groups. Tweens and teenagers are swallowing magnets with alarming frequency because they are commonly used by this age group to mimic fake tongue, nose, lip or cheek piercings, resulting in accidental ingestions. 

"In our mission to create environments where all children and youth are safe and healthy, our job is to disseminate potentially lifesaving information to those in a position to implement injury prevention measures,” said EDC’s Sally Fogerty who directs CSN. “We were pleased to work with our experts to deliver this message to pediatric providers, first responders, child care providers, school nurses, educators, injury prevention specialists, and parents.”

The magnets at issue are typically small (3-6 mm) and round, resembling a BB or decorative silver candy.  Magnet ball brand names include BuckyBalls ™, Zen Magnets™ and Neocube™. 

While some manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to stop the importation, distribution and sale of rare earth magnet sets, others have resisted despite clear evidence of their danger.  Unfortunately, millions of magnet sets (which can contain 100 or more individual magnets) have and continue to be sold to consumers and are in homes, child care settings, and schools, posing a particular danger to children ages 1 – 14. Many organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Consumer Federation of America, have called upon the CPSC to ban the sale of these high-powered magnets.

“Every day that magnet manufacturers have ignored or resisted the pleas from the public health community to remove these dangerous magnets from the market, more children have been put at needless risk of injury,” said Dr. Bousvaros.

To listen to the one hour Webinar, visit:  http://edc.adobeconnect.com/p1lh3e4k1dy/

To download CSN’s flier on the dangers of magnet ingestion, go to: http://www.childrenssafetynetwork.org/publications/pediatric-magnet-ingestion-get-facts-prevent-injury

For more information, email: csninfo@edc.org

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Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that creates learning opportunities for people around the world, empowering them to pursue healthier, more productive lives. EDC manages 250 projects in 30 countries. Visit www.edc.org. The Children’s Safety Network (CSN) is based at EDC in its Center for the Study and Prevention of Injury, Violence, and Suicide. The center works to understand the causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and to develop prevention strategies. Visit www.childrenssafetynetwork.org.