Organization highlights health hazards of button battery ingestion

The increased use of lithium cell button batteries has significantly worsened the outcome of battery ingestions among children, indicates research from the Washington-based National Capital Poison Center. The batteries, some of which are only 20 mm in diameter, can become lodged in the esophagus and cause severe complications, such as tissue damage, esophageal perforation or vocal cord paralysis.

The batteries ingested by children younger than 6 most often were taken from a household product, such as a remote control. Slightly more than 15.5 percent of battery ingestions occurred among adults who mistook button batteries for pills.

If a battery is ingested, NCPC advises:

  • Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at (202) 625-3333 or your local poison center at (800) 222-1222.
  • If possible, provide the battery identification number found on the package or a matching battery.
  • Do not induce vomiting or eat or drink until an X-ray can determine the battery has passed the esophagus.
  • Watch for fever, abdominal pains, vomiting or blood in stool. Report any symptoms immediately.

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