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Dangers of button cell batteries to babies and young children highlighted

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Button cell batteries 14

Parents and carers are being reminded of the dangers that small button cell batteries can pose to babies and young children. 

Button batteries are commonly found in everyday household objects such as toys, singing and talking books, musical greeting cards, TV remote controls, watches, calculators and hearing aids. 

Mr Dave Hedley, Associate Specialist Doctor at Noble’s Hospital’s Emergency Department said:

'To a small child, a button battery can look like a tasty sweet.  If swallowed or inserted into internal orifices, such as the nose, these batteries are potentially very dangerous, especially if they contain Lithium. 

'Lithium button batteries react with saliva causing acid to leak.  If a child swallows a battery it can cause severe trauma, including acid damage or electrical current burns to the throat, the oesophagus (swallowing pipe) or stomach, and can lead to further damage to other internal organs.' 

There have been several instances in the UK in recent months where young children have swallowed these batteries and as a result of the damage caused by the battery, have become extremely unwell and in some cases have sadly died. 

Dr William van der Merwe, Consultant Paediatrician said:

'We are currently not aware of any such incidents in the Isle of Man.  However, due to the increasing availability of these batteries, we would like to alert the public to the risks and urge extreme caution, particularly around small children. 

'We would urge parents and carers to keep button batteries in a safe place where small children cannot reach them.  Dispose of used batteries immediately, as they can still be dangerous. 

'If you suspect a child (or adult) may have swallowed a button battery, take them immediately to the Emergency Department at Noble’s Hospital so that they can be assessed and treated by medical professionals.  Do not let the child eat or drink and do not attempt to induce vomiting.  If possible, please also bring along the packaging, or if not available, a similar battery.'

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