Transcript - Magnets

Magnets come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in desk toys, cabinet hardware, or as decorative items placed on refrigerators.

But these seemingly harmless objects are a choking hazard and can even perforate the bowel when swallowed.

Between 2009 and 2011,1,700 children were taken to the emergency room after ingesting a magnet, with many of them requiring surgery.

When a single magnet is swallowed, it can become lodged inside the throat, lungs, or esophagus, which can lead to choking or difficulty breathing. Generally, a small, single magnet will eventually pass through the digestive system.

When two or more magnets are swallowed, a much greater danger exists. Dr. Alan Oestreich, Pediatric Radiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital explains.

[INSERT INTERVIEW 03:37:03;04] “When one magnet is in one loop of bowel and one is in an adjacent loop of bowel, or even in the same loop, folded over, they might attract. And if they attract they stick together and then the bowel loses its vascularity where it's stuck for a long time.” [03:37:39;19] “They can perforate and have things go out through a hole in the bowel. The bowel may twist. The bowel may stick one part and go into another part of bowel. A variety of problems happen.”

The best way to keep your child safe is to keep magnets away from anyone younger than 14. Dispose of popular adult products such as Buckeyballs, Nanospheres, Zen magnets and Magnet Balls that contain loose magnets that children can easily swallow.

Check toys and play areas regularly for dislodged or lost magnets. And don’t forget about teenagers! Warn teens about the dangers of imitating piercings by placing tiny magnet balls on or around their face.

Due to life-threatening side effects, it’s important to recognize symptoms of ingestion early on, especially when children can’t or won’t admit to swallowing a magnet. While most symptoms mimic the flu, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, Dr. Oestreich gives parents a few additional ailments to look for.

[03:45:17;15] Abdominal pain, usually not severe, but could be severe if one of the complications has occurred. Such as twisting of bowel. Uh, vomiting, refusing food, uh for infants, just unusual behavior.

If you suspect your child has swallowed a magnet seek immediate medical care. An ultrasound or X-ray can diagnose the issue, and surgery may be required to remove the object.

I’m Ken Moll for Legal News Network, your source for safety information.