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Beware of 'button' batteries, other choking hazards for children
Battery ingestion hotline: 202-625-3333
Poison Control Center hotline:1-800-222-1222
At a time of year when many children will be playing with new toys or holiday decorations around the house, the Washington State Department of Health issued a warning this week about the choking hazard posed by tiny “button” batteries.
In the Emergency Department at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Dr. Ted Walkley and Dr. Jonathan Chalett said they see a couple of cases per month of children who ingested button batteries.
The button batteries are used in musical holiday cards, small toys, remote controls and flameless candles.
“The concern is that they leak chemicals that can cause erosion, and they need to be removed immediately if they’re in the ear, nose or esophagus,” Dr. Chalett said. “If we can see that it’s in the stomach, and depending on the size, we’ll try to make it pass with a laxative.”
Dr. Chalett said that parents should bring in an identical battery from the same package, if possible, so that the doctor can look at the serial number and find the exact size of the battery that the child ingested.
Button batteries aren’t the only choking danger. Just this week, Mary Bridge Emergency Department doctors removed a “Hello, Kitty” charm from a child. Another danger is magnets, which can be especially hazardous if more than one is swallowed -- they can pinch tissue together and block a child’s digestive system.
“At this time of year, there’s more opportunity and less supervision,” said Dr. Walkley. “If it can be put in the mouth, a child will ingest it.”