Study Shows Marked Increase in Injuries to Children tied to Magnetic Balls

A recent study found that between 2002 and 2011 the number of serious injuries to children who swallowed toy magnets increased by up to five times.

The Annals of Emergency Medicine published the study last week, noting that doctors and hospitals have reported in excess of 22,500 cases where patients required medical treatment after ingesting magnets in just the last 10 years.

At the center of these reports are magnet sets which are marketed as toys to adorn adult desks. Multiple children have suffered severe injury or death after swallowing these tiny balls made from a powerful rare-earth magnet. Many of these injuries occur when ingested magnets attract each other through the intestinal walls.

In the study, the researchers reviewed 893 cases where children suffered injury after swallowing magnets. The average patient studied was 5.2 years old, and most of the incidents occurred during or after 2007.

While most of the patients who suffered magnetic ball injuries were small children, many doctors have reported cases where older children or teens have accidentally swallowed the toys when they used them in an attempt to simulate facial piercings.

When a child swallows multiple magnets, they may become attracted to each other while moving through the digestive system. This has sometimes resulted in emergency surgery or even long-term health issues when these magnets tear the walls of the intestines, create blockages, or cause the intestines to twist.

The study published last week is one of many. The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition published a report in November 2012 stating that current warning labels were not an effective way to prevent children from swallowing the tiny magnets. In July 2012, the CPSC attempted to alleviate the situation by filing administrative complaints against the makers of two popular magnetic desk toy sets, BuckyBalls and Zen Magnets in pursuit of a recall of these products. Roughly 3 million of these toys have been sold in the United States since 2010.

Despite enhanced warnings and stricter regulations on the sale and marketing of these toys, the rate at which children are injured by magnetic desk toys continues to increase. A number of families of children injured or killed as a result of ingesting tiny toy magnets have filed personal injury lawsuits in pursuit of compensation for medical bills and other damages. If you would like to learn more about toy magnet injury lawsuits, contact the Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C.