A new study discovered that more young kids are ingesting the tiny lithium batteries, popularly known as “button” batteries, that power many of our modern electronics, potentially leading to terrible repercussions, including death.
According to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, an estimated 7,032 visits to emergency rooms were made as a result of battery-related injuries from 2010 to 2019, more than twice as many visits as from 1990 to 2009. This is despite public information campaigns warning parents about the dangers.
According to the study, children under the age of 18 visit the hospital on average once every 1.25 hours for a battery-related emergency. The survey found that children under the age of five were most at danger, particularly toddlers between the ages of one and two who frequently put objects they find in their mouths.
According to the study, button batteries caused injuries in more than 87% of the visits where the battery type could be identified.
Lithium button batteries continue to have a strong current even after being removed from the device they are powering. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cautioned that if the batteries become lodged in a child’s throat, saliva may come into contact with the current and cause “a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours, creating an esophageal perforation, vocal cord paralysis, or even erosion into the airway (trachea), or major blood vessels.”
According to his parents, Karla and Michael Rauch, that is what occurred to 1-year-old Emmett Rauch in 2010, who ate a button battery that had slipped out of a DVD player remote.
The couple wrote on the website of Emmett’s Fight Foundation, a nonprofit organization they founded to inform other parents about the dangers of button batteries, “The battery literally burned a hole through his esophagus into his trachea (airway), allowing his stomach bile to reflux into his lungs.”
The Raunchs said that Emmett’s vocal cords were also burnt by the battery. Emmett needed six surgeries over the course of five years to address problems from his wounds, including the replacement of his whole esophagus with a section of his bowel.
“As a mother, I always go back to the morning we discovered Emmett’s sickness. How could I miss that? If only I had noticed the type of batteries the remote controls needed!” On a blog for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Karla Rauch posted.
Batteries are everywhere
Modern homes have button batteries everywhere, even in unexpected places like singing greeting cards, animated or blinking ornaments, and clip-on reading lights.
The National Poison Control Center lists additional products that frequently contain lithium batteries, including calculators, digital thermometers, flameless candles, flashing jewelry, handheld games and toys, hearing aids, laser pointers, light-up bouncing balls, penlights, mini-remotes, step counters and athletic trackers, talking and singing books, and of course, car key fobs and smartwatches.
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which monitors emergency room visits in more than 100 hospitals across the country, provided the data for the current study.
According to the data, the bulk (90%) of these battery-related ER visits involved eating the battery, which was followed by putting batteries in the nose (5.7%), ears (2.5%), and mouth without swallowing (1.8%).
Despite not being as harmful as ingesting them, lithium batteries left in the ear or nose can nevertheless result in serious injuries such rupture of the eardrum or nasal septum, hearing loss, or facial nerve paralysis.
What should parents do?
The key is to prevent. Avoid installing or changing batteries in front of young children since they are drawn to flashy objects. Experts advise disposing of expired batteries immediately and carefully, and storing any replacement ones in a location that is out of children’s reach.
“Consider purchasing items with battery compartments that can only be opened with a screwdriver or other specialized instrument, or that have a child-safe latch. Use strong tape, at the very least, to keep the container well sealed against small hands “Connecticut Children’s Hospital recommended.
According to the National Poison Control Center, batteries that are at least the size of a cent should be handled with extra care.
“One of the most dangerous issues is the 20 mm diameter lithium cell when eaten. These problematic cells can be identified by their imprint (engraved letters and numbers), which frequently bears one of the following three codes: CR2032, CR2025, or CR2016. These larger button batteries, if ingested and not immediately removed, can result in death or burn a hole through your child’s esophagus “Observed the center.
Always keep an eye on kids who are playing with toys or gadgets that use button batteries, and teach older kids about the risks so they can help.
What if you believe your child may have ingested a battery or inserted one into their ear or nose?
“Dial 800-498-8666 to contact the National Battery Ingestion Hotline right away. Quick action is essential. Do not wait till symptoms appear “the NPCC said.
Be cautious since signs of ingestion can resemble the child swallowing a penny, according to specialists. Wheezing, drooling, coughing, vomiting, chest discomfort, unwillingness to eat, or gagging when trying to drink or eat are examples of typical behavior. However, other kids, like Emmett Rauch, may take days before their symptoms become noticeable.