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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an increasing number of incidents are being reported of children swallowing high-powered magnets found in desk and stress reliever toys made for adults. These magnets are typically sold in sets and include several hundred tiny magnets in each pack.
Toddlers often mistake these small magnets for candy and teens use them to mimic body piercings, which may lead to unintentional swallowing. Ingestions of powerful, rare-earth magnets have increased steeply since 2016, when a federal ban on selling them was lifted. National poison control centers recorded approximately 1,600 cases of magnets being swallowed in 2019 - more than six times the total in 2016. According to a published study in the journal Pediatrics,the number of children admitted to U.S. emergency rooms due to swallowing small objects, including high-powered magnets, almost doubled from 1995 to 2015. Of children who swallowed more than one magnet, 71.1% required hospitalization.
If swallowed, high-powered magnets can cause serious and life-threatening injuries. When multiple magnets are swallowed, they can connect to one another within the abdomen, blocking a portion of the intestines. This may lead to serious injuries including intestinal holes and blockages.
Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect your child has swallowed one or multiple magnets. Visit your local emergency department to receive an x-ray as soon as possible. Do not allow your child to eat or drink until after they receive an x-ray. Repairing the damage caused by magnets may require multiple surgeries.
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Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.