Paediatrician warns parents about the dangers of button batteries
Dr Anna Pigott, Consultant Paediatrician
A leading paediatrician at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) wants to warn parents about the dangers of button batteries following the tragic death of a toddler. The child died after swallowing coin sized batteries from a remote control.
Dr Anna Pigott, Consultant Paediatrician at Royal Stoke University Hospital, today urged parents to be aware of the dangers of button batteries which power everyday objects like car key fobs, remote controls, musical cards and children's toys.
The toddler died after acid from the battery burned through her oesophagus and into a major artery. Staff from across adult and paediatric specialties at UHNM were called in to help deal with the emergency in May but were unable to save her.
Dr Pigott said: “Our hearts go out to the family involved. We urge parents to be aware of the danger presented by button batteries. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is aware of a number of deaths and very serious injuries involving other children who have swallowed button batteries in the UK, so this is clearly not an isolated incident. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are concerned about the dangers of the batteries and are currently undertaking a national survey to identify how many children every year are killed or harmed by button batteries.
“Symptoms that may indicate a child has swallowed a battery include coughing or drooling, coughing up blood as well as pointing to their throat or tummy. Children with any of these symptoms without another obvious reason should be taken to hospital immediately to be assessed. A simple X-ray can identify if a battery has been swallowed, and if it is likely to cause a danger.
“As clinicians, we fought as hard as we possibly could to save the child, but sadly in this case the bleeding was so extensive it was not possible. This is one of those cases that will stick in the hearts and minds of our medical and nursing teams for a very long time and we urge parents to take note of this tragic incident so that any future cases can be prevented.”
Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board has issued an urgent warning to parents in the latest edition of its child death prevention newsletter. It states:
“Batteries react with saliva and if a child swallows a button battery it can burn holes and cause internal bleeding and even death.
“Tragically, a young child in Staffordshire has recently died from ingesting a button battery.
“If you think your child has swallowed a battery take them straight to the nearest A&E department or call 999 for an ambulance.
“The symptoms may not be obvious. Your child might be coughing, gagging or drooling, or pointing to their throat or tummy.
“Unclear or fluctuating symptoms mean it is important to be vigilant. Trust your instincts and act fast even if there are no symptoms.'
Steps to take to keep your child safe from button batteries
- Store spare batteries securely, out of reach
- Know which toys or gadgets use button batteries, check your home
- Get rid of 'dead' button batteries immediately - they still have enough power to harm children
- Teach older children the dangers - why they shouldn't play with them or give them to younger children
- Place strong tape over the battery compartment on remote controls