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Keep button batteries away from your kids!

Button batteries are very common in household items like remote controls, toys, calculators, thermometers, cameras and other small electronic devices. They are small, shiny objects that may attract curious children to put in their mouths. Button batteries may seem harmless but they are life threatening if swallowed.

If a button battery is swallowed by a person of any age, serious injuries, even death may result.
If a young child swallows a button battery, you may not know because the child might not show obvious symptoms. Some clues to look for are refusal to eat, trouble swallowing, drooling or breathing difficulties. A button battery lodged in the food pipe (the esophagus) could result in serious tissue injury, even within the course of two hours! If you suspect that your child ingested a button battery, immediately call 911. Your child needs to be taken to the emergency room for assessment immediately. An ingested button battery can be diagnosed on X-rays. The battery will need to be removed urgently if it is stuck in the esophagus.

Prevention and awareness are key. Keep loose and spare batteries out of reach of children. Ensure that all the battery compartments of electronic devices are taped securely. Even a “dead” battery can still cause harm if swallowed. Most importantly, watch your children closely.

Becky Biqi Chen was a resident in general pediatrics for three years at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. She is currently specializing in pediatric gastroenterology during her fellowship at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital.


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