Hospital's Safety Experts Alarmed Over Button Battery Ingestions in Children

Safety experts at Children's Memorial Hospital are alarmed over the increased risk of severe complications or death from button battery ingestions in children. A recent study by the National Capital Poison Center found that button battery-related incidents resulting in severe injury and fatality have increased sevenfold since 1985. Data shows there used to be a dozen cases a year and that has jumped to an average of 100 cases per year on a review of 56,000 cases.

“Incidents most often involve children younger than four years old and senior adults – though children are the most vulnerable for injuries” said Steve Krug, MD, division head of Children’s Memorial’s Emergency Department.  “The most frustrating part is this type of injury is 100 percent preventable if these batteries are kept out of the hands of children.” 

Button Batteries, especially 20-mm lithium batteries, found in common household products such as remote controls, toys and cell phones are now landing in the hands of children who are then ingesting them with devastating consequences.  Symptoms resemble ailments common in children such as an upset stomach and fever, and in some incidents, there are no symptoms at all.

“Once ingested, there is only a two hour window to remove the battery before it causes serious tissue damage,” said Karen Maule, MD, of Children’s Memorial. “We have been working with electronics industry and battery manufacturers urging them to develop consumer warning and industry standards to prevent access to these batteries by young children.” 

Get more information on button batteries.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital, is a 23-story, state-of-the-art hospital located in downtown Chicago on the campus of its academic partner, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report 2013-14 Honor Roll rankings. Lurie Children’s provides pediatric care in a setting that offers the latest benefits and innovations in medical technology, research and family-friendly design. The hospital relies on philanthropic support to care for more than 149,000 children each year.

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