Monday, August 12th, 2013
The number of children who went to the emergency room or were treated elsewhere because they had swallowed magnets–a highly dangerous situation that can lead to emergency surgery–quintupled between the years 2002 and 2011, according to a new study published online in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine. More from ScienceDaily.com:
“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 lead study author Jonathan Silverman, MD, of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. “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.”
Over a 10-year period, 22,581 magnetic foreign body injuries were reported among children. Between 2002 and 2003, incidence of injury was 0.57 cases per 100,000 children; between 2010 and 2011, that jumped to 3.06 cases per year out of 100,000 children. The majority of the cases occurred in 2007 or later.
In cases where children ingested multiple magnets, 15.7 percent were admitted to the hospital (versus 2.3 percent of single magnet ingestions). Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of magnets were swallowed; twenty-one percent were ingested through the nose. Nearly one-quarter (23.4 percent) of the case reports described the magnets as “tiny,” or other variants on the word “small.”
Image: Magnets, via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 23rd, 2012
The U.S. Public Interest Research Organization has released its 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” survey, which has found on store shelves a number of toys that are known to be dangerous or made of toxic materials. The offending toys include those that pose choking or laceration hazards, contain toxic chemicals like lead and BPA that are associated with health risks, or exceed recommended limits for safe noise levels around young ears.
Parents are urged to carefully read all printed warnings on toys they are planning to purchase this holiday season, and to review the report to educate themselves on the warning signs of a dangerous toy.
CNN.com has more:
Over the years, the organization said, its reports have led to more than 150 recalls and other regulatory actions.
This year’s list “includes a potentially dangerous magnet toy, a bowling game that is a choking hazard and a key chain rattle that may be harmful to little ears,” it said.
Researchers visited national toy stores, malls and dollar stores in September, October and November this year to look for potential toxic, choking, strangulation and noise hazards.
“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Nasima Hossain, public health advocate for Public Interest Research Group, in a release detailing the report.
The Toy Industry Association, which represents more than 500 manufacturers in the United States, said, “Safety is our top priority all year,” and a spokesman called the group’s survey “another of its needlessly frightening reports.”
Image: Child in toy store, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
CNN.com is reporting on the inspiring story of a newborn baby whose life-threatening intestinal obstruction was corrected not through major, invasive surgery, but through an innovative technique using magnets:
A thin, hard membrane was blocking a section of [newborn, 4-pound] Patrick’s intestines — the result of a rare birth defect called rectal atresia that occurs in one out of every 5,000 babies.
“We need to remove it,” the doctor told the couple.
[Dr. Eric] Scaife described to Patrick’s worried parents a long, technically difficult surgery. Patrick would be cut open through his abdomen and vertically along his tailbone. Once inside, Scaife would remove the membrane and then piece together two sections of intestines.
He had his concerns. It was a big operation on a little baby. The surgery might cause scarring, or it might injure nerves in Patrick’s pelvis that could lead to incontinence.
If Patrick was Scaife’s son, what would he do? Divricean asked the surgeon.
Scaife told her he’d think on it and give them an answer the next week.
“Hopefully, they’ll come up with something that will save Patrick or will give us a better option at least,” Divricean thought as she waited for the week to pass.
A week later, Scaife had an idea.
Instead of removing Patrick’s blockage, he wanted to break through it — with two powerful magnets.
In the hands of children, strong magnets have proven dangerous, even deadly. When swallowed, they’ve passed into the intestines, and their attraction to each other has forged a hole in tissues.
It occurred to Scaife that in the skilled hands of a surgeon, magnets might be a useful tool instead of a hazard. If he placed a magnet on either side of Patrick’s blockage, their attraction might make a hole and destroy the membrane, allowing stool to pass.
Scaife’s idea was untested and unproven — but if it worked, Patrick wouldn’t need surgery.
Read on for the whole story.
Image: Surgeon, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 26th, 2012
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a stop-sale order for Buckyballs, a magnetic stress ball toy that is meant for adults but has caused dangerous health problems in children. The ban is despite efforts by Buckyballs’ efforts to prevent the product from getting into children’s hands; the company’s website still has a statement reading, “A government agency (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) is saying they should be recalled because children occasionally get ahold of them. This is unfair. We market exclusively to adults. We are vigorously defending our right to market these products you love.”
Reuters reports on the CPSC’s decision:
The commission ordered distributor Maxfield and Oberton Holdings of New York to halt sales because injuries to children who had swallowed them had continued to rise, the CPSC said in a complaint.
“Notwithstanding the labeling, warnings and efforts taken by (Maxfield and Oberton), ingestion incidents continued to rise because warnings are ineffective,” the CPSC said. It said the magnets presented a “substantial product hazard.”
Buckyballs are small, powerful round rare earth magnets that are sold as toys and desktop accessories. When children swallow them they can pinch or trap intestines and require surgery to remove, the CPSC said.
Since they went on the market in 2009, numerous incidents involving children have been reported. In January 2011, a 4-year-old boy had his intestine perforated after he swallowed three magnets he thought were chocolate candy, the complaint said.
Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said.
Image: Buckyballs, via http://www.ohgizmo.com/
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