Parents Warned to be Aware of the Dangers of Button Batteries
A doctor is calling for parents to be aware of the dangers of
button batteries which may be fatal to their children.
Lithium button batteries that are used to power toys, key fobs,
remote controls, birthday cards etc. can cause severe life changing
injury or death in young children.
Dr Kate Parkins, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care says:
"There have already been two reported deaths in the Greater
Manchester area directly linked to children swallowing these
batteries so it's important parents are aware of the serious harm
they can cause.
Children under six years old are most at risk, but severe injury
can happen in any age group.
Most serious cases are associated with Lithium button batteries
larger than 20 mm (the size of a 10p piece). These can get stuck in
the throat or gullet (oesophagus) and this is where the battery can
cause the most harm in as little as two hours."
"Repair can require feeding and breathing tubes and multiple
operations. Parents need to be aware there may be no symptoms at
first or that symptoms may be similar to other illnesses (eg
coughing, drooling, not eating or drinking normally, tummy pain).
Children can usually breathe with the battery in their throat so it
may be difficult to spot."
"The button battery does not need to be bitten, damaged, crushed
or leak to cause harm. New button batteries are most likely
to cause harm (especially Lithium button batteries), but even those
that no longer work can cause serious injury. When the battery gets
stuck it causes injury by setting up an electrical current when in
contact with lining of the throat or gullet (oesophagus).
This causes a build-up of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and can
cause a severe burn. Damage can occur if the button battery is not
removed in less than two hours, and is more likely to cause severe
injury if it is not removed within 8 - 12 hours."
Parents are advised to:
1. Keep devices with button batteries out of reach if the
battery compartments aren't secure, and lock away any loose
2. If a child swallows a button battery take them straight
to the nearest Accident & Emergency Department. Do not
let them eat or drink and do not try to make them sick. In Accident
& Emergency doctors will check whether a button battery is
stuck in the throat or gullet (oesophagus) using an
3. If a child gets a button battery stuck in the nose or ear
take them to the nearest Accident & Emergency Department as
soon as possible. It is important that it is removed quickly
(ideally in less than 2 hours) as the battery can cause permanent
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