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Do you know about the dangers of button batteries to your child?

Posted on: 24 November 2022

At least two children a year die from swallowing lithium coin cell batteries in the UK. Surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital are seeing one child a month with corrosive burns caused by button batteries.

If a big, powerful lithium coin cell battery – a thin button battery like a five pence piece – gets stuck in a child’s food pipe, it can cause catastrophic internal bleeding and even death. Children who are most at risk are those aged between one to four years, but younger and older children can also be at risk.

Worryingly, far too many parents simply don’t know – either about the dangers or the wide range of products now powered by button batteries. At times like Christmas, many homes are filled with festive lights and decorations. But these – and many toys, are powered by button batteries that can badly hurt or kill your child if swallowed. 

It’s important to keep any objects with easily accessible lithium coin cell batteries out of children’s reach, as well as spare and even ‘flat’ batteries, and to act fast if you think your child may have swallowed one.

Child Accident Prevention Trust has put together useful information and advice to help you keep your child safe. 

Information includes what are the risks of batteries to children? Very serious as the information below shows.

“Most button batteries pass through the body without a problem. But if a lithium coin cell battery gets stuck in the food pipe, energy from the battery reacts with saliva to create caustic soda. This is the same chemical used to unblock drains!

This can burn through the food pipe, to the main artery and lead to catastrophic internal bleeding and death. The chemical reaction can happen in as little as two hours. However, sometimes it takes days or even weeks.

Lithium coin cell batteries can also cause life-changing injuries. There is a risk that the food pipe is too badly damaged for a child to eat normally again, or the vocal cords are too badly damaged for a child to speak normally again.”


Further reading

Read about where you can find button batteries in your home, understand why ‘flat’ batteries are still dangerous and find out what to do in an emergency if you suspect your child has swallowed one.


To learn more from Child Accident Prevention Trust, click the link below. 

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