Children and Magnets Have a Dangerous Attraction, End Up in the ER

On August 6, 2013, the Annals of Emergency Medicine published the results of a study describing the increase in incidence of magnetic foreign body injuries in children in the United States. The study, titled “Increase in Pediatric Magnet-Related Foreign Bodies Requiring Emergency Care,” took a representative sample of magnetic foreign body injury cases in the United States, and assessed these incidences along location factors, i.e. how the magnet came into the child’s body. The results indicate that, regardless of the location of the insertion of the magnet, these types of injuries can cause serious health problems in children.

Magnets are found in many household items, including kitchen gadgets and desktop toys, which clearly appeal to young children. Children with these types of injuries often intake the magnets through the mouth or nose. In the study, 74% of the cases involved ingestion, while 21% of the cases involved insertion of the magnet through the nose. When ingested, the magnet can cause serious injury to the child’s intestinal tract, particularly through the erosion of the intestinal wall.

The authors cited a significant increase in the number of magnetic ingestions from 2002 to 2011. Furthermore, they cited an increase in the severity of the injuries resulting from ingestion of magnets, with many more of these events requiring hospitalization or emergency surgery since 2009. The study concludes by stating that magnets pose a serious hazard for children if swallowed, and encourage physicians to inquire as to magnet ingestion when investigating reported abdominal pain in children.

See the study from the Annals of Emergency Medicine at:


See the press release issued regarding the study at:

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