Trends of Magnet Ingestion in Children, an Ironic Attraction

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Background and Objectives:

Ingestion of rare earth magnets is a serious ongoing hazard for pediatric patients. Our study aims to investigate whether 2012 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) policy action, in coordination with efforts from consumer and physician advocacy groups, decreased the incidence of magnet ingestions in children in the United States since 2012.


Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) was used to evaluate trends in emergency department (ED) encounters with pediatric patients (<18 years) who presented with suspected magnet ingestions (SMI) from 2010 to 2015. National estimates of SMI were made using the NEISS-supplied weights and variance variables.


An estimated 14,586 children (59% male, 50% age <5 years) presented to the ED for SMI from 2010 to 2015. A significant upward trend in magnet-related ED visits preceded the CPSC action, with the peak ingestions of 3167 (95% confidence interval, 1612–4723) recorded in 2012. This was followed by a steady decrease in the rate of SMI to 1907 (95% confidence interval, 1062–2752) in 2015, an average annual decrease of 13.3%. Most importantly, post-federal action estimates demonstrated a downward trend in overall SMI ED visits (P = 0.03).


The frequency of magnet ingestions continued to rise from 2010 and then peak in 2012, followed by a decline in magnet ingestion ED visits during the post-federal action years. This down trend emphasizes the importance of advocacy on decreasing magnet ingestions in children. Further study will be required to determine the impact of the court decision to lift the magnet ban in 2016.

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