Young kids have a habit of putting things in their mouth and nose, and magnets—such as those that decorate refrigerator doors— seem to be of particular interest to these toddlers, resulting in trips to the ER.

These are not isolated cases; a new study featured on
Science Daily reports that there have been 22,581 incidents of magnet ingestion injuries over 10 years. Almost 74 percent of magnets were swallowed, while 21 percent were ingested through the nasal cavity.

“It is common for children to put things in their mouth and nose, but the risk of intestinal damage increases when multiple magnets are swallowed,” says lead study author Jonathan Silverman, MD, from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. “The ingestion of multiple magnets can severely damage intestinal walls to the point that some kids need surgery. The magnets in question were typically those found in kitchen gadgets or desk toys marketed to adults but irresistible to children.”

However, toddlers aren’t the only ones who have been rushed to the ER; adolescents were also included in the figures. “There were proportionally more nasal injuries involving older children, possibly because strong, attractive magnets are being used to imitate nose, tongue, lip, or cheek piercings," Silverman adds.


He urges parents to be more aware of the risks involving household and decorative magnets. Children and adolescents should be informed about things that should not be put in the mouth or nose, as the repercussions could be very harmful, and even fatal.

(Photo by Theodore Lee via Flickr Creative Commons; photo used for illustrative purposes only)

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