Refrigerator magnets and other magnetic toys can provide a fun, educational experience for many young children. However, loose magnets and magnetic toys designed for adults can cause serious injuries and lifelong impacts for children and teens.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was successful in advocating for new Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards for children’s products and toys that contain magnets. These new standards help keep children safe by ensuring that magnets in children’s products will not fall out or become dislodged. This decreases the risk of loose magnets being swallowed by young children.
Unfortunately, the new safety standards only apply to children’s products. Many magnets are found in products designed for adult use. Recently, children have been injured as a result of swallowing small, round magnets marketed as “stress relief” desk toys for adults.
Use the tips below to protect your children from the dangers of magnets:
- Keep products with small or loose magnets away from young children who might swallow them.
- Closely monitor loose magnets and other magnetic products to ensure children do not swallow them.
- Avoid purchasing magnets sold in sets of 100 or more, as it is difficult to recognize if a few magnets have gone missing.
- Talk to your older children and teens about the serious dangers associated with using magnets as fake piercings in their mouths or noses.
Know the symptoms of magnet ingestion:
- Children who have ingested magnets may have abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever. Because these symptoms are common in children and not usually caused by ingested objects, the true cause may not be suspected right away.
- Delaying treatment can lead to severe injuries to the stomach, intestines, and digestive tract and even death.
- Contact your pediatrician or nearest emergency department immediately if you suspect your child has swallowed or been injured by a magnet.
Report injuries and incidences of magnet ingestions to the CPSC:
If your child has swallowed a magnet and/or been injured by a magnetic product, you can report that injury to the CPSC, the federal agency tasked with ensuring children’s toys and other consumer products are safe.
The CPSC has an online database for parents and the general public to report dangerous products and injuries related to consumer products directly to the agency. Anyone can visit SaferProducts.gov to report injuries related to magnet ingestions or other products directly to the CPSC.
The site requests, but does not require, the injured victim’s information. The CPSC must publicly disclose accident or investigation reports, but does not include identifying information for any injured individual or the person reporting the incident. If further information is necessary, the CPSC will contact the reporting individual directly, but such contact information is not shared with others.
Stronger regulatory action to remove dangerous magnets and magnetic products from the marketplace may depend on the CPSC receiving reports of injuries associated with these products. Parents and others who witness magnet-related injuries are encouraged to report the incidents to the CPSC.
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