Gastrointestinal injuries from magnet ingestion in children--United States, 2003-2006

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006 Dec 8;55(48):1296-300.


Ingestion of nonfood objects, inadvertently or intentionally, is common among young children and also occurs with older children and adolescents. Unless the objects are large or sharp, they usually pass through a child's digestive system without health consequences. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has become aware of toy products containing small, powerful rare-earth magnets that pose unique health hazards to children. Since 2003, CPSC staff members have identified one death resulting from ingestion of these magnets and 19 other cases of injuries requiring gastrointestinal surgery. This report describes three selected cases and summarizes the 20 cases of magnet ingestion identified by CPSC that occurred during 2003-2006. Caregivers should keep small magnets away from young children and be aware of the unique risks (e.g., volvulus and bowel perforation) that magnets pose if ingested. When evaluating children who have ingested objects, health-care providers should be aware of potential complications if magnets might be involved.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Obstruction / etiology
  • Intestinal Perforation / etiology
  • Magnetics*
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • United States / epidemiology