Kids swallowing 'button' batteries a growing risk

Kids swallowing 'button' batteries a growing risk

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by Collette Wieland

kgw.com

Posted on November 8, 2011 at 7:41 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 8 at 12:31 PM

PORTLAND -- Lithium "button" batteries are causing more and more injuries and deaths in children, doctors said.

Injuries and deaths have quadrupled in the last five years. Last year alone, more than 3,400 kids swallowed button batteries -- batteries that are commonly found in watches and now, many popular children's toys.

Dr. Barry Newman with Providence Pediatric Surgery says the small batteries can cause some serious burns.

Two years ago, Dr. Newman pulled one of those batteries out of 7-year old Dylan Jensen's throat.

Newman calls Dylan lucky because he made it to the hospital before the battery burned a hole through his esophagus.

If a child doesn't choke on the lithium battery on its way down, the battery will likely stick to their esophagus. Once lodged in their throat, the battery gets charged, heats up, and burns.

"The worst problems occur when that burns a hole into the wind pipe," said Dr. Newman. He adds, "if that hole goes into a blood vessel, there's nothing to stop the bleeding ... a lot of times, these kids will bleed to death before you even get them back into the emergency room."

Dylan survived, but his injuries were severe enough to keep him in the hospital for a week. Now his parents want to warn other families, in hopes of keeping other children safe.

"It's really dangerous, and it's one more thing that parents need to add to the list of objects to keep away from kids," Dylan's father Chris Jensen said.

Doctors say if your child swallows a lithium battery, take them to the emergency room immediately.

There is less of a chance of suffering permanent damage if that battery is taken out within four hours of it being swallowed.

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