COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Nationwide Children’s doctor is raising the alarm about something that is increasingly sending kids to the emergency room, and in some cases, threatening their lives.
The issue she is digging into is pediatric high-powered magnet injuries: it’s been around for a while but just recently caused another spike. Pediatric Emergency Medicine Dr. Leah Middelberg was able to present her research on this over the weekend at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference.
The magnets causing issues are in things like children’s toys and some desk or fidget toys.
Middelberg said there was a huge jump in injuries in 2008. Then the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall and she said those cases dropped.
The problem, she said, is this was overturned, and as these products came back, so did the rise in injuries. It got so bad that the commission issued another recall at the end of 2022 and now doctors are waiting to see what comes next.
“We don’t know ultimately what’s happened since then, we don’t have data quite yet to say, but we really hope that that means injuries and exposures have started going down again,” Middelberg said. “But ultimately, our goal is no child be injured by a high-powered magnet product. So, we continue to investigate this just so we know how to best treat children and identify issues.”
The Journal of Safety Research said unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 19.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital, along with 24 others across the country, looked at nearly 600 cases of high-powered magnet-related injuries.
“We definitely in the emergency department, unfortunately, do see injuries from this type of product,” Middelberg said.
She looked at who was coming in with these injuries.
“What we saw was, it’s actually children from higher opportunity and higher socioeconomic communities that are more affected, and these families actually said that they knew about the dangers of these products ahead of time and that they’re, you know, closely watching their children and so that makes me concerned that education and supervision alone isn’t enough,” Middelberg said.
Another issue the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference brought up was injuries from e-bikes and scooters, which is something an Ohio Health doctor is seeing a lot of.
“The e-scooters and bikes are creating a lot higher injury pattern than I think any of us realize,” Riverside Emergency Department Assistant Medical Director Dr. Brad Raetzke said. “We see a lot of head injuries as well as wrist fractures from these e-scooters and bikes. I think a lot of it is because a lot of them are available around the street.”
He said there’s a rise when kids go back to school.
“I would say we’ve seen a lot more in the last month or two just because it’s an easy way to get to the Ohio State Football games,” Raetzke said. “People think that they’re a little bit safer and I think it’s just way more accessible to do short things here and there, so we definitely see an increase around game time.”
While these e-scooter injuries tend to be in older patients, Middelberg said the average age they see for magnet-related injuries is around seven and a half years old.
For more information on how to prevent magnet-related injuries, contact the Central Ohio Poison Control at 800-222-1222.