Doctors urge parents to be on high alert for small batteries found in household products

A new federal law signed last month drew attention to the potential dangers of small batteries found in many household appliances.

Doctors want parents to be aware of the danger button batteries can pose to children if accidentally swallowed.

The tiny shiny lithium batteries look like coins and can attract curious kids. Some children go to the emergency room with life-threatening injuries after accidentally swallowing button batteries.

Last year, 3-year-old Atarah swallowed a lithium button battery. Her mother had no idea what happened, but she noticed that her daughter had difficulty eating and showed little interest in her food.

She took Atarah to the gastroenterologist and radiologist to check for a blockage in her stomach. An X-ray showed the tiny battery in the child’s esophagus.

“When I imagined that she had this thing in her throat for a long time and I didn’t even know about it, I just burst into tears,” said Elmitas Jean from Westbury.

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They immediately rushed to the emergency room at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where a medical team was waiting for them. dr It took Neha Patel, a pediatric otolaryngologist, an hour to remove the battery from Atarah’s esophagus. She said it was one of the most difficult cases she has ever seen.

One of the reasons button batteries are so dangerous is that they create an electrochemical reaction and can burn out your esophagus. They can be found in everyday household appliances like remote controls, tea lights, flameless candles, garage door openers and more.

Atarah’s battery had been stuck so long her esophagus looked like minced meat.

“It’s like a little bomb going off in your throat,” says Dr. patel “You could damage your body within 15 minutes of ingesting the battery. Within 2 hours you can suffer permanent damage.”

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If a button battery damages the aorta, weeks later a child can experience life-threatening bleeding and, in some cases, death.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said at least 10 child deaths were reported between 2017 and 2021. Their ages range from 15 months to two years.

In 2021, Dr. Patel six separate cases within two months.

“And that’s a drastic increase. I think button batteries are more readily available. They are contained in household items. They are part of modern life,” added Dr. added patella.

According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, between 2010 and 2019, there were 70,322 battery-related emergency room visits to the emergency department among children under the age of 18 — double the number in the previous decade.

Team 12 Investigates surveyed five major Long Island hospital systems to see what they are seeing. We noticed that nobody is tracking this data, but doctors said they treat about five to 10 patients a year with this problem.

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dr Patel said if a child has swallowed a button battery, some signs may include drooling, refusal to eat, difficulty swallowing and noisy breathing.

“As soon as you suspect that a child has swallowed something, you want to go to the emergency room immediately because time is of the essence here,” says Dr. patel

From now on, Atarah’s mother won’t take any more risks. She urges other parents not to swap batteries in front of children to keep them out of reach.

“Anything small, put it away,” says Jean. “Put it up where they can’t see it.”