COLUMBUS, OH – A news report posted on newswise.com states that the number of poison control calls concerning high-powered magnet balls increased by about 444% once the ban was lifted.
High-powered magnets are children’s toys described as small, shiny magnet balls made from powerful rare earth metals. The toys first appeared on the market back in the early 2000s. The rare earth metal magnets then appear in desk sets in 2009. These high-powered magnets have been responsible for thousands of injuries and are considered one of the most dangerous children’s toys on the market due to their life-threatening ingestion hazards.
If two or more of the magnets are swallowed by a child, the high-powered magnets can be magnetically attracted to each other connecting different sections of tissue, causing obstructions, cutting off blood supply to the bowels, causing tissue necrosis, sepsis, and even fatalities. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) determined these toys were so dangerous that the agency banned the high-powered magnets in 2012. Tragically, the ban was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals back in December 2016.
According to the report, a multi-organization research study conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Emergency Medicine, and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital analyzed phone calls made to all U.S. poison centers regarding magnet exposures in victims aged 19 years and younger from 2008 to 2019 to ascertain the result of the CPSC ban and the consequent removal of the ban.
The study has been published in the Journal of Pediatrics. The researchers discovered that the average number of calls concerning high-power magnets each year fell 33% from 2012 to 2017. This was during the high-powered magnet sets ban. When the magnet ban was reversed, and magnet sets returned to the market, the average number of calls per year grew by 444%. Also, the number of calls that required emergency medical attention at a hospital grew by 355%. Calls into the poison control centers from 2018 and 2019 grew across all age groups and accounted for nearly 40% of the magnet cases since 2008.
The study observed a total of 5,738 high-powered magnet exposures during the study period. A majority of the poison content calls involved male children (55%), under the age of six years (62%), who sustained an unintentional injury (84%). Approximately half of the patients were treated at a hospital. Children in the older age groups were more prone to be admitted to the hospital than the younger children.
According to Bryan Rudolph, MD, MPH, co-author of the study stated that parents of teen children should also be of the danger the high-powered magnets as serious injuries can occur with teenagers as well. He also urged parents to throw the magnet kits away because the risk of severe injury is too significant.
Safety advocates support federal legislation called the “Magnet Injury Prevention Act,” which places a limit on the strength and/or size of magnets. The advocates also support reinstating the original CPSC federal safety standard that restricted the sale of the magnets in the United States.
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