High-Powered Magnet Ingestion Still Sending Children to Hospital

Children continue to present to be hospitalized for high-powered magnet ingestion, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held from Oct. 20 to 24 in Washington, D.C. 

Leah K. Middelberg, M.D., from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues used data from 25 U.S. children's hospitals (2017 to 2019) to identify and characterize patients (aged 0 to 21 years) with a confirmed high-powered magnet ingestion or insertion. 

The researchers identified 594 patients with a high-powered magnet exposure; 74.3 percent of exposures occurred among children with high Childhood Opportunity Index (COI) scores. Direct supervision by a caregiver at the time of exposure was less likely among children with a low COI score (11.3 versus 17.4 percent). Compared with children with high COI, more children with a low COI tended to have an injury, although the difference was not statistically significant (13.2 versus 8.4 percent), and children with a low COI score were more likely to undergo both endoscopy and surgery (9.3 versus 2.9 percent). Furthermore, children with a low COI score had a longer mean length of stay (4.4 versus 3.3 days) and were more likely to require readmission (5.4 versus 1.6 percent) versus those with a high COI score. The time caregivers took to seek care, the time to the definitive care hospital, and the size or number of magnets per exposure were similar across COI groups.

"Caregivers across all socioeconomic status groups need to be more aware of the danger these magnets pose, but these data illuminate opportunities for focused advocacy and education," the authors write.

AAP Press Release: Child Injuries Due to High-Powered Magnet Ingestion Continue Despite Public Education Efforts and Age Restrictions (aap.org)

News article: High-Powered Magnet Ingestion: Children Continue to be Hospitalized (healthday.com)