Ask the Expert: About neodymium magnets

Q. What is a neodymium magnet, and how are these objects dangerous to my child?

A. Also known as rare-earth magnets, neodymium magnets are often used for hard drives, generators and some machinery in the health care industry. Some alternative medicine practitioners also use these high-powered magnets for therapeutic purposes.

Recently, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) met with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Concerns voiced by NASPGHAN included a higher number of children who are accidentally ingesting these magnets, as well as case examples that highlighted how dangerous these magnets can be if accidentally ingested.

“The CPSC can set stricter restrictions around the sale of these magnets,” says Thomas Sferra, MD, chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “But to do so, the CPSC needs even stronger evidence that these magnets pose a threat.”

That is why, Dr. Sferra says, it is doubly important for parents to report any foreign objects that a child may have ingested, including high-power magnets, to the CPSC.

To report a magnet ingestion online, visit cpsc.gov.

Thomas SferraThomas Sferra, MD
Chief, Pediatric Gastroenterology,
UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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