Outcome of Zen Magnets v. Consumer Product Safety Commission

PT Reeves, B Rudolph, CM Nylund. JPGN 2020; 71:699-703. Magnet Ingestions in Children Presenting to Emergency Departments in the United States 2009–2019: A Problem in Flux

When the 10th Circuit Court, with judges Gorsuch, Ebel, and Bacharah, rolled back high-powered magnet regulations in 2016, it was expected that this would result in more suffering in children. The referenced article by Reeves et al documents the effects of this decision.

Background: In 2016, the Zen Magnets decision resulted in magnets returning to the market with warning labels “but not performance standards favored by NASPGHAN (ie, making magnets either too large to swallow or too weak to cause harm).” In this study, the authors used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database of consumer product injuries.

Key findings:

  • When stratified by time period, suspected magnet ingestion (SMI)per year was 1598 during off-market period (when product was banned) compared with 2826 during on-market period.
  • An estimated 23,756 children (59% males, 42% < 5 years old) presented with a SMI from 2009 to 2019.
  • There was an average annual case increase of 6.1% (P = 0.01).
  •  After 2017, there was a 5-fold increase in the escalation of care for multiple magnet ingestions (estimated n = 1094; CI 505–1686). “Escalation of care” refers to cases designated as ‘treated and transferred,’ ‘treated and admitted/hospitalized,’ or ‘held for observation.’
  • More data on this topic from CPSC 124 page report: (Link) Informational Briefing Package Regarding Magnet Sets

My take: Regulatory action is needed to prevent harm in children from these high-powered magnets.There are two companion bills in Congress which are in committee, one entitled “Magnet Injury Prevention Act.” These are clearly needed given previous judicial branch ruling.

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