Young children eating random objects is nothing new, but a new study has now shown that children are now eating far more magnets than they were a decade ago.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that "foreigh body injuries" in children due to magnets was at a rate of 0.57 for every 100,000 children between the years 2002 and 2003. The same rate was found to have jumped to 3.06 per 100,000 children between 2010 and 2011. The numbers show a more than 500% increase in the incidence of children being injured by magnets.
22,581 magnet injuries in children were seen between 2002 and 2011. 74% of the injuries were due to children swallowing the objects, and 21% of them involved magnets being ingested through a child's nose. The study found that the risk of injury to children was much greater when more than one magnet was swallowed.
"It is common for children to put things in their mouth and nose, but the risk of intestinal damage increases dramatically when multiple magnets are swallowed," said Dr. Jonathan Silverman, lead author of the study and a University of Washington department of pediatrics fellow. "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."
The study also found that older children are now suffering from more magnet-related nasal injuries. Silverman attributes this to jewelry that use magnets to imitate nose piercings.