The growing popularity of button batteries in toys and devices has also resulted in an increase of injuries – fatal in some cases -- to children who swallow the tiny yet powerful cells. Emergency room visits now exceed 5,000 annually, or roughly one every 90 minutes.
Of particular concern is a button battery lodging in a child’s esophagus. In those cases, a lithium button battery’s external current making contact with tissue fluids may create a corrosive chemical that can damage or perforate the esophagus.
And the fault often rests with unsafe toys or devices which use battery compartments or outer packaging that make the batteries easily accessible to small children.
If your child or a loved one suffered a severe injury due to ingestion or insertion of a button battery, you should contact a battery injury attorney. Kline & Specter, PC, with more than 50 attorneys, several of whom are also doctors, has the expertise and experience to investigate and litigate battery injury cases.
The firm currently is handling one case in which a northwestern Pennsylvania baby swallowed two button batteries from a pair of lighted tweezers that were purchased – without packaging or warnings – from a bin at a dollar store. The baby suffered cardiac arrest and kidney damage and has lost all of his toes and most of his fingers.
Battery-related injuries are often caused by the defective design of the product, including a toy or devices such as watches, calculators, flashlights, remote controls, Christmas ornaments, toothbrushes or small lights on T-shirts, shoes or stuffed animals. Too often these products lack safeguards such as screw-secured or child-resistant battery compartments.
“When a button battery is swallowed and gets caught in a child’s esophagus, serious, even fatal injuries can occur in less than two hours,” noted the latest study of the problem conducted by The Research Institute at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and published May 2012 in Pediatrics magazine. (read article)
The study found an increase in the number of battery-related emergency room visits nearly doubled from 2,591 in 1990 to 5,525 in 2009, while another analysis published earlier by Pediatrics cited nine known fatalities since 2004.
While swallowing the generally three-volt, 20 millimeter lithium button batteries is the main problem, the study also noted injuries from children swallowing other types and sizes of batteries, including cylindrical batteries which can leak alkaline. Injuries can also occur when children put batteries in their noses or ears.