Button Batteries Still Sending Kids to Emergency Rooms
Posted by Marianne Frederick
With what we already know about button batteries, it is a big surprise that they continue to be so pervasive in the environment and continue to represent a serious health and safety hazard to young children. The presence of button batteries in home, school and play environments continues to hurt kids. Nancy Walsh in her article of May 14, 2012, for MedPage Today, says button batteries are still "posing increasing risk to young children with a near doubling of battery-related emergency room visits over the past two decades."
Walsh pointed to the ratio of button battery-related trips to emergency rooms in 1990 was 4 per 100,000 people, in the following two decades the ratio increased to 7.4 trips per 100,000 people--according to a study performed by Gary A. Smith, MD, PhD, of Nationwide Children's Hospital and his colleagues, which examined data from a host of hospitals throughout the country. Astonishingly, for children under 5 years of age, the study found the rate increased from 10 trips per 100,000 to 19.1 trips per 100,000 (to be reported in the June issue of Pediatrics) due to button battery-related incidents. So, in nearly 20 years, the rate of button battery-related emergency room trips almost doubled (for the same size population).
The types of injuries and causes of fatal outcomes in children range from a swallowed button battery becoming lodged in a child's esophagus, the battery's contents perforating the esophagus, or the presence of the battery doing damage to the child's larynx, vocal cords, and causing bleeding. An estimated more than 65,000 visits have been made to emergency rooms across the country during the past 20 years due to button battery-related incidents. More than 75 percent of the children were under five years of age--and approximately 66 percent were boys. The most common sources of the batteries were games, toys, remote control devices, watches and hearing aids.
Button batteries don't just find their way into children's mouths, but they turn up in their ears and noses too, emergency room staffs find. So parents need to be aware and keep items that contain button batteries locked up and out of reach. In a radiographic evaluation of a child who has swallowed a button battery, the flatter button battery will show a characteristic double-rim which might not be seen in the case of a child having swallowed a coin. Dr. Smith and the co-authors of this study advise parents to tape all battery compartments securely shut if you have battery- (and button battery-) powered items in your home. The authors of the study would also like to see manufacturers childproof anything with a battery or button battery in it. We couldn't agree more!
Remember, if you think your child has swallowed a button battery, call the Poison Control Center immediately 1-800-222-1222!