| News

Tech News: Don’t Eat Magnets

This study shows a significant increase in the rate of multiple magnet-related injuries between 2002 and 2012

A picture of gears by Sean Keenan

Hey kids. Don’t eat magnets. Eating magnets is bad.

And if you eat magnets, then you’ll be bad.
So don’t eat magnets. Eating magnets is bad.


Magnet ingestions by children have received increasing attention over the past 10 years. With the growing availability of new and stronger neodymium-iron-boron magnets being sold as “toys,” there has been an increase of cases of ingestion, resulting in serious injury and, in some cases, death.

In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the trends of magnetic ingestions at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Canada’s largest children’s hospital.

Matt Strickland, MD, and colleagues reviewed all cases of foreign body ingestion seen in the emergency department from April 1, 2002 through December 31, 2012. Inclusion criteria included being less than 18 years of age, with suspected or confirmed magnetic ingestion. According to Dr. Strickland, “We chose to limit our scope to the alimentary tract because the majority of serious harm from magnets arises from perforations and fistulae of the stomach, small bowel, and colon.

To reflect the introduction of small, spherical magnet sets in 2009, the study was divided into two time periods, visits during 2002-2009 and those during 2010-2012.

A picture of gears by Sean Keenan

Of 2,722 patient visits for foreign body ingestions, 94 children met the inclusion criteria. Of those, 30 children had confirmed ingestion of multiple magnets. Overall magnet ingestions tripled from 2002-2009 to 2010-2012; the incidence of injuries involving multiple magnets increased almost 10-fold between the two time periods.

Six cases required surgery for sepsis or potential for imminent bowel perforation, all of which occurred in 2010-2012. The average size of the magnets also decreased approximately 70% between 2002-2009 and 2010-2012.

This study shows a significant increase in the rate of multiple magnet-related injuries between 2002 and 2012. “More concerning, however,” notes Dr. Strickland, “is the increased number of high-risk injuries featuring multiple, smaller magnets.” Despite new magnet-specific toy standards, labeling requirements, product recalls, and safety advisories issued in the past 10 years, continuing efforts should focus on educating parents and children on the dangers inherent in magnetic “toys.”

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences
Photo: Sean Keenan

Comments are closed.

Our weekly newsletter

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Join Trebuchet on PatreonExclusive content and full media memberships available

This is the patreon page for Trebuchet podcast and website. We publish a beautiful printed magazine biannually and release an irregular podcast on contemporary art every month (or so). 

Our website is updated every other day with new art news, art criticism and much more. Become a backer and join us in discovering new forms of art that raise the heart rate and electrify the mind.  

Cookies and GDPR

By visiting this site you agree that you're fine with us using cookies. (read cookie policy)