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QOD: What do I do if my child swallows a magnet?

Head to your nearest ER. In the past 10 years, ER visits for magnet ingestion have risen nearly ninefold, nearly all of them in children under the age of 5.

While magnets are innocent appearing, they can be deadly if not removed promptly, particularly if two or more magnets are swallowed. Once they reach the intestinal tract, magnets can bind together across the bowel wall, causing tears in the bowel and potentially causing a life-threatening perforation if not recognized quickly. The physician will send your child for x-rays to locate the magnet and determine how many have been ingested. If there are multiple magnets in there, your child will likely be sent straight to the operating room to have them removed.

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