Fewer children in Canada ingested magnets following a recall of the products, researchers
“This study demonstrates that a mandatory product recall can prevent significant morbidity
associated with an identified hazardous product,” authors wrote.
If a child ingests multiple high-powered neodymium-iron-boron magnets, they can attract
each other and cause serious bowel conditions.
The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, saw spikes in such ingestions in
2011 and 2012 after multiple-magnet sets marketed as “adult desk toys” hit the shelves,
according to the study.
The Academy was among the organizations during that time warning parents about the
dangers of children ingesting the magnets (http://bit.ly/2mWt2ox). Those dangers prompted Canada and the U.S. to regulate the products through recalls
and new safety standards.
Researchers set out to study the impact of Canada’s recall by comparing data on magnet
ingestion at the Hospital for Sick Children during the two years before the recall
(2011 and 2012) and two years after the recall (2014 and 2015).
In the two early years, there were 22 multiple magnet ingestions, six operations and
nine endoscopic procedures. In the two years after the recall, there were five ingestions,
one operation and four endoscopic procedures.
“Government regulations are one of the strongest instruments in the policy toolbox
to effect change,” researchers wrote. “… Our study shows that in this particular case,
the policy intervention appears to have quickly mitigated the threat of multiple magnet
The authors could not determine whether an education campaign alone could have had
the same impact as a recall. Still, they said their findings could prove useful in
court challenges to recalls. In November 2016, a Denver court ruled in favor of a
manufacturer fighting to sell the products in the U.S., which could mean products
return to the shelves.