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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