Entries in swallow (4)


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


Three-Year-Old Ingests 37 Magnets

ABC News(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- An Oregon 3-year-old is recovering after she ingested 37 Buckyball earth magnets.

Payton Bushnell had complained to her parents about stomach pain, Oregon's KPTV reported. At first, Aaron and Kelli Bushnell thought their child simply had a stomachache, but her symptoms continued, and an X-ray at the hospital finally revealed a circular grouping of magnets in her stomach.

The magnets reportedly snapped Payton's intestines together, punched one hole in her stomach and three in her intestine, according to KPTV. Payton's parents say she may have mistaken the small metallic balls as edible toppings they often use to decorate cupcakes.

Physicians at Children's Hospital in Portland rushed Payton into surgery and she is now making a full recovery.

The Bushnells did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment.

"If we had any idea what those magnets could have done to our daughter's intestines I would have never had them in our house, " Kelli Bushnell told KPTV.

People tend to experience flu-like symptoms within a couple days of ingesting the magnets.

The problem with children and teenagers accidentally ingesting high-powered magnets has been on the rise in recent years, said Kim Dulic, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And most of the magnets are so small that it's difficult to notice if one or two go missing in a sofa or on the floor.

"The popularity of these products are growing, and it's resulting in an increasing amount of incidents," said Dulic.

One incident of ingesting magnets was reported in 2009, seven in 2010 and 14 through October 2011. The ages of these cases ranged from 18 months to 15 years old, and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets.

"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent-looking magnets," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said at the time the report was released. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress."

In response to the increasing number of accidental ingestions, Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, the manufacturer of Buckyballs, said, "High-powered magnets, such as Buckyballs, are products for adult use only and should be kept away from all children."

And since magnetic tongue rings and lip piercings in which two high-powered magnets sit on both sides of the lip or tongue have also become more popular in recent years, teenagers are also at particular risk, the CPSC warns.

Button-size batteries, found in remote controls, toys, calculators and bathroom scales, have also become a hot spot of contention because of the increasing number of accidental ingestions.

"The difference between magnets and these batteries is that you can see symptoms within two hours of swallowing them," said Dulic. "It burns the esophagus and it can start soon after."

"We want to continue to get the message out about these products and the dangers associated with them," said Dulic. "If parents believe their child has swallowed magnets, they should bring them to the doctor immediately."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Swallows Stolen Wedding Ring

Cicero Police Department(CHICAGO) -- In an attempt to make off with a diamond wedding ring that he'd snatched from a couple's home, a Chicago man swallowed the evidence before it could be retrieved by its owner, according to police.

Wilfredo Gonzalez, 30, was working on a remodeling project on Aug. 5 for a Cicero, Ill., couple when he asked to use the bathroom at their home. When he returned, the wife noticed that her diamond ring was missing, and her husband confronted Gonzalez. The two got into a "tussle," according to Cicero Police Department spokesman Ray Hannania.

"The suspect pulled the ring from inside his shoe, held it in his hand to keep it away from the owners and then swallowed it," said Hannania. When police arrived, Gonzalez was read his Miranda rights and confessed to stealing the ring.

"They told him that swallowing the ring could be dangerous, so he agreed to an X-ray," said Hannania. Gonzalez was taken to a local hospital, where X-rays revealed the diamond wedding ring, valued at $1,600, inside his stomach.

The suspect was then transported to jail, where he was put in a rubber-room lockup equipped with bed pans. "He was given medication to help make this transition easier and delivered the ring early [on Aug. 8] around 4 a.m.," said Hannania.

Police then recovered the ring, and returned it to the couple.

"We were glad we were able to get the ring back for the woman. It was her wedding ring, was pretty large and it was important to them," he said.

According to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Gonzalez has been charged with felony theft and faces up to three years in prison should he be convicted.

Gonzalez appeared in court Aug. 9 for a hearing where his bail was set at $10,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Radio Host's Son Hospitalized After Swallowing Tiny Magnets

BananaStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Television and radio personalities are used to talking about what happens in other people's lives, but for one Denver radio and TV host, the focus is now on her and her young son, who was hospitalized after he swallowed a handful of tiny magnets.

Denise Plante, the host of a morning radio show and a television show said on Facebook that her eight-year-old son accidentally swallowed the magnets after putting a ball of about 20 of them in his mouth. He was playing with what she said were the small magnets kids use to build things.

"Doing what a kid does, he stuck them in his mouth while joking around," Plante said. "The magnets were pulling his intestines together. He has five or six holes in his intestines and one hole in his stomach."

Plante went on to say her son is on a feeding tube and his stomach is being pumped. He's already had three surgeries and will be in the hospital at least another week.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it knew of more than 30 children who'd been injured after ingesting magnets. A 20-month-old child died and 19 others required surgery. The CPSC put out a special alert in 2007, warning parents of the dangers of small magnets and has recalled millions of toys because of the hazards posed by small magnets.

"If two or more magnets or magnetic components or a magnet and another metal object (such as a small metal ball) are swallowed separately, they can attract one another through intestinal walls. This traps the magnets in place and can cause holes (perforations), twisting and/or blockage of the intestines, infection, blood poisoning (sepsis), and death," the CPSC wrote in the alert.

Since then, some manufacturers of toys with small magnets have since encased the magnets in plastic, so they can't be swallowed.

Dr. Sanjeev Dutta, an associate professor at Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., wrote a case study of another little boy who swallowed a magnet from a toy set. In a 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, he discussed the case of Braden Eberle, then four years old.

He came to the emergency room after having stomach pain for several weeks, and Dutta had to remove the magnets, which were stuck together through the walls of different parts of Braden's intestine. He removed them laparoscopically, but Braden got an infection from the magnets and had to be hospitalized for six days.

This case drove Dutta to warn others of the dangers magnets pose to children.

"Magnets, when we were kids, were made of ferrite," Dutta said. "The new magnets are exponentially more powerful than the ferrite magnets. When they swallow these magnets, they could die from this."

Denise Plante is sending out her own warning about toys like the one her son was playing with.

"Please don't buy these for your kids, throw them out if you have them," she said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio