New Research Shows More Children Are Swallowing Tiny “Button Batteries”

lithium_button_battery_danger.JPGTwo new research articles published in the research journal Pediatrics are drawing attention to an unintended consequence of advances in battery technology: more children are swallowing the batteries as the batteries grow smaller. The journal articles published in Pediatrics reveal a sevenfold increase in the number of children who ingested batteries between 1985 and 2009.
One of the most worrisome aspects of this phenomenon is that, unless the parent sees the child swallow the battery, the health problems related to swallowing the battery may go misdiagnosed. One infant who swallowed a button battery was initially diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. Eventually, an x-ray administered to check for pneumonia turned up the button battery. Surgeons removed the button battery from the child’s esophagus and the child was discharged. However, the chemicals in the battery had burned through the child’s esophagus, causing a fatal aortic rupture shortly thereafter.
While small batteries are here to stay, one of the most outrageous aspects of this danger is how manufacturers have not taken steps to child-proof the batteries. One thirteen month old apparently had the manual dexterity required to remove a button battery from the remote control for her parents’ iPod docking station. Hopefully, products liability litigation will lead to a redesign of either these small batteries or (more probably) the shells of the devices that contain them. When an infant not capable of neither walking nor talking can extract a twenty-millimeter battery from a remote control, there is a serious design defect with that product.

Continue reading

Bookmark and Share