A new study released in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reveals the dangers posed by button batteries. The study covered injuries caused by button battery products over a twenty year period from 1990 to 2009. In that time, there were nearly 66,000 emergency room incidents for children under 18-years-old due to interaction with batteries. By far the most common problem was ingestion of smaller batteries, known as button batteries, by younger kids. The average age of the children who went to the emergency room was 4-years-old.
The most obvious danger posed by button batteries is that they will lodge in a child’s throat and cause the child to choke. However, the danger from button batteries goes far beyond choking. The lightweight batteries may become trapped in the child’s esophagus where the chemicals in the battery will burn through the tissue it contacts. Children have been killed in a matter of hours after ingesting these small batteries. If parents do not see their child swallow the battery, they can mistake the symptoms for a simple flu and not seek care until it is too late.
Safety experts have called on product manufacturers to take steps to make releasing button batteries more difficult. Toy manufacturers use screws to make battery compartments child resistant. The problem often comes from the makers of products intended for adults. Bathroom scales, keyless remotes, and greeting cards that play music or other recordings may have small batteries that can easily be removed by a child.
Parents should be wary of any product that contains a battery small enough to be ingested by their child. Such products should not be left with children untended or should not be allowed in the house at all. When purchasing a greeting card, bear in mind that the tiny battery that plays the funny song or message is a hazard to children. Until manufacturers make a greater effort to make their products safe, consumers must take care to protect their loved ones.
Source: CBS News, “Button batteries blamed for uptick in emergency room visits, study finds,” by Ryan Jaslow, 14 May 2012