Warning Labels and High-Powered Magnet Exposures

Pediatrics. 2022 Nov 1;150(5):e2022056325. doi: 10.1542/peds.2022-056325.


Background and objectives: High-powered magnets are among the most dangerous childhood foreign bodies. Consumer advocates and physicians have called for these products to be effectively banned, but manufacturers assert warning labels would sufficiently mitigate risk.

Methods: Subjects from Injuries, Morbidity, and Parental Attitudes Concerning Tiny High-powered Magnets (IMPACT of Magnets), a retrospective, multicenter study of children with high-powered magnet exposures (ie, ingestion or bodily insertion), were contacted. Consenting participants responded to a standardized questionnaire regarding the presence and utility of warning labels, magnet product manufacturer, and attitudes around risk.

Results: Of 596 patients in the IMPACT study, 173 parents and 1 adult patient were reached and consented to participate. The median age was 7.5 years. Subjects reported not knowing if a warning label was present in 60 (53.6%) cases, whereas 25 (22.3%) stated warnings were absent. Warnings were present in 28 (24.1%) cases but only 13 (46.4%) reported reading them. A manufacturer was identified by families in 28 (16.1%) exposures; 25 of these were domestic and 27 had warnings. Subjects reported knowing magnets were dangerous in 58% of the cases, although 44.3% believed they were children's toys and only 6.9% knew high-powered magnets were previously removed from the United States market.

Conclusions: Over 90% of subjects from the IMPACT study didn't know if warning labels were present or failed to read them if they were, whereas almost half believed high-powered magnets were children's toys. Warning labels on high-powered magnet products are, therefore, unlikely to prevent injuries in children.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Foreign Bodies*
  • Humans
  • Magnets*
  • Morbidity
  • Play and Playthings
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States