Entries in Batteries (3)


Tiny Batteries Causing Big Health Problems for Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The small coin-sized batteries found in many toys, electronics and singing greeting cards could be life-threatening in children.

An analysis released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission found 14 children who are aged 13 and under have died, and more than 40,000 have been injured, from small batteries.

Scott Wolfson, director of communications for the CPSC, called these batteries a “serious hazard.”

“There is growing attention to this hazard and an increase in the number of fatalities,” Wolfson said. “Today, more of these small batteries are being used in products such as remote controls, greeting cards, flashlights and CPSC is seeing children getting access to those batteries.”

Statistics in the report appear to support Wolfson’s argument that these cases are on the rise.

Of the 14 deaths reported between 1997-2010, half were reported in 2009-2010 and 72 percent of emergency department (ED) visits throughout 1995-2010 were among children aged 4 and under.

Part of what makes these ingestions so dangerous is by the time symptoms like severe abdominal pain or vomiting appear, burns, ulcers and severe damage to the esophagus or gut have likely already occurred.

“That’s what’s so scary about these, you can get damage so quickly,” said Alison Tothy, director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Chicago. “But how many parents bring their kids to the emergency department for a little belly pain, but 8, 12, 14 hours later they are still having belly pain and starting to vomit…and there is even more damage that has been done because the battery has sat there for 24 hours.”

She said it’s important to bring children in right away if you think they swallowed something.

“The window of opportunity to get those out before they cause damage is pretty small,” she said. “It’s usually within four hours a battery can cause damage.”

A May study in Pediatrics showed similar findings.  Children being taken to emergency departments with battery ingestions have increased -- with more than 65,000 ED visits involving kids 18 and under between 1990-2009.

“We live in a world designed by adults for the convenience of adults, and the safety of children is often not considered,” said Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and author of the May study.

Smith found ED visits doubled from 2,591 visits in 1990 to 5,525 in 2009 and the number of button batteries swallowed by children also doubled.

Chairman for the CPSC, Inez Moore Tenenbaum, has called on major manufacturers of button and coin-cell batteries to address the safety of their products and wants to see safety standards in place to address the problem.

Wolfson says the changes can’t come soon enough.

“We want these products that use button cells to be designed in a way that children can never get access to them,” Wolfson said. “We believe that there can be innovations in both the way the battery is made and how it is used in various products.”

In the 1980s, toys and other children’s products were required to secure tiny batteries so kids can’t get to them.

A bill introduced last year by Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., would require all products with button batteries to be childproof.

The CPSC said parents should never let kids play with batteries and take caution to make sure they are disposed of properly.

If you think your child swallowed a battery call the national batteries ingest hotline, 202-625-3333, or the national universal poison control hotline, 1-800-222-1222.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Kids in ER from Swallowing Batteries, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of children being taken to emergency departments with battery ingestions is on the rise, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

In total, more than 65,000 visits involving kids who had ingested batteries occurred over the past 20 years.  In the overwhelming majority, button batteries were the culprits.

These tiny batteries are becoming more and more ubiquitous as more devices powered by small lithium batteries -- the shiny, button-sized variety -- make their way into our homes.

So what makes these batteries so dangerous?  Part of the problem is that lithium batteries are especially appealing to the child's eye, as they can mimic candies and can easily fit into small mouths, ears or noses.  Occasionally, if a child swallows one of these batteries, it can pass through his or her body without incident.  But this isn't always the case.

Dr. Ian Jacobs, associate professor of ear, nose and throat at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, explains that if a lithium battery stays lodged in the esophagus for more than two hours, the battery can erode through the soft tissue of the esophagus and cause a hole.  This can be fatal.

Children who survive still face serious health issues.  They may experience permanent paralysis of the vocal cords that may forever rob them of their speech.  These batteries can also be harmful if lodged in other places.  They can burn through the cartilage in the nose or into the inner ear, causing hearing loss or difficulty breathing.

Dr. Toby Litovitz, executive and medical director of the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C., has done extensive research on the major and fatal outcomes associated with button battery ingestions and maintains a national database on these and other incidents.  She found in a separate study that from 1985 to 2009 there was almost a seven-fold increase in the percentage of button battery ingestions with major or fatal outcomes.

So what can parents do to prevent these potentially fatal ingestions?  The first step is to keep the batteries out of children's reach.

Lithium batteries can be found in laptops, iPads, remote car keys, calculators, cameras, bathroom scales, digital thermometers, talking books, video games and even musical greeting cards.

Litovitz recommended that parents "be vigilant and look at every product at home to see if it has a battery compartment that can be opened by the child and [if so, make sure it is] secured with heavy tape.  If not, it needs to be treated like a medication -- up high, out of reach and locked up."´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lithium Batteries Pose Deadly Threat to Kids

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- They're common in everyday objects all around us, in gadgets like remote controls, watches, calculators, thermometers, toys and greeting cards. Nickel-sized lithium batteries, or button batteries are often accidentally ingested by young children and they can be deadly.

Reports of children ingesting these "button batteries" have increased. More than 35,000 button battery cases are reported to poison control centers annually and at least 13 have been identified as the cause of death.

Within as little as two hours, after the round 20-25mm battery enters the body, it can cause severe tissue damage and other serious complications. When a lithium battery becomes lodged in the body, it gives off an electrical current. Once the electric charge is set off, it reacts with the surrounding skin, producing a strong acid similar to that found in home drain opener.

More than 80 kids have permanent damage from ingesting button batteries. The chemical reaction triggered by the batteries can damage vocal cords leaving children with a life-long whisper. Damage to the intestinal tract means some children require feeding tubes and even multiple surgeries.

Emergency physicians suggest parents be on the lookout for the batteries and get down on the floor at their child's level and look around to make sure they aren't lying around the house.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio