The threat of button batteries and your child…

| July 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

Scrolling through Facebook this morning I came across a post from Essential Baby (an Australian website) about the death of a child in Queensland who swallowed a coin ‘button’ battery. You know the type? Small, flat lithium batteries about the size of a NZ 20 cent piece?

At first I thought the threat must be from whatever the battery is made from, which would be toxic if ingested but on reading further I was shocked to discover it is actually from the electrical charge that the battery gives off when it lodges in the throat or stomach. An electrical current is triggered from saliva as the battery touches sensitive tissue, and can severly burn a hole in the child’s oesophagus in as little as two hours!

These types of batteries are commonly found in singing cards, talking books, key remotes, some television remotes and other small electronic devices and obviously are common in any household.

On further investigation I found a number of articles in New Zealand media like this in the New Zealand Herald that says at least “one child a month (in NZ) needs emergency surgery to remove an ingested button battery…”. Wowsers!

It seems SafekidsNZ is onto it and released a media statement back in December 2012 highlighting this, but I for one must have missed it at the time! So I thought many of you may have missed it too? My kids are terrible for putting random things in their mouths, and I remember at least one occasion where I have retrieved a small button battery from one of their mouths!


“Too often, these devices are left within reach of young children. Singing greeting cards and car key remotes, for example, are often shared with children for their amusement. The batteries inside can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause serious injury and even death.” SafekidsNZ

From SafekidsNZ:

Safekids New Zealand and Consumer Affairs want to raise awareness about this  issue by providing easy steps that parents and caregivers can take to prevent injuries to children.

Where the risk hides

Coin-lithium batteries can be found in everyday devices, such as:

  • Talking and singing children’s books and holiday greeting cards
  • Mini remote control devices
  • Calculators
  • Miniature torches and flameless/ electronic candles
  • Reading lights
  • Bathroom scales

Steps for Parents and Caregivers

  • Examine devices, making sure the battery compartment is secure.
  • Keep coin-sized button batteries out of sight and reach.
  • If swallowing is suspected, go immediately to your local A&E, or call 0800 POISON (0800 764 766).
  • Tell others about this threat and share the safety messages.

I also thought I would post this video (seen on Essential Baby) about the story of a one year old boy who swallowed a battery. Thankfully the boy survived but his recovery was long.

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Category: Health & Beauty, Kids

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