Small Batteries A Risk To ChildrenOct 6, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
We have been advocating stronger safety regarding a vast variety of consumer products; however, few issues are more important than the safety of our children, who are often the most seriously at risk. One of the hidden dangers in many consumer products are those small button batteries found in a wide array of products, even toys.
WebMD noted that so-called “button-type batteries are used in items such as “vibrating teethers” and “musical touch-and-learn baby books.” These ubiquitous “tiny” batteries present serious dangers to children; however research indicates, said WebMD, that neither parents nor physicians really understand the potential and significant issues.
Button batteries are those very small, round batteries that are no larger than the average adult thumbnail which can also be found in hearing aids, watches and calculators, and musical and voice greeting cards, in addition to many, many children’s toys and products, according to Web MD.
Citing a study presented at the largest meeting of ENT professionals—ENTs are physicians who specialize in the ears, nose, and throat—it seems that children ingest small disc batteries quite often by either swallowing the dangerous, tiny pieces or by stuffing them in their nasal cavities or ears, said Web MD. The researchers understand why children behave in this way and that hey can be orally fixated; the real surprise is that adults don’t understand how dangerous the practice is to children, reported Web MD. The research looked at a decade of “pediatric hospital case studies and related literature,” Web MD noted.
According to the National Capital Poison Center, over 3,000 people swallow button batteries every year, with the majority—62 percent—representing children younger than the age of five, with most between one and two years of age, reported Web MD.
Ingesting or inhaling these small batteries can lead to long-term health problems, said Web MD. For instance, batteries will typically exit the body with a bowel movement; however, the battery can become lodged in the body and result in “internal bleeding, tissue burns,” or windpipe holes, to name a few of the serious health problems, noted Web MD; voice loss or the need for feeding or breathing tubes can also occur.
We have long written about issues with imported and domestic toys posing dangers to young children. In addition to dislodged magnets that can cause dangerous and fatal consequences, toys made with parts that can be removed pose hazardous, deadly choking and strangulation dangers to children. There are myriad dangers facing children such as lead poisoning; phthalate and bisphenol A exposure; clothing with illegal ties that can cause strangulation hazards and have led to a number of deaths; chemicals that can lead to rashes and other skin disorders; defective cribs and bassinets that have injured and killed many young children; combustible batteries; and hazardous pool drains, to name just some of the perils facing children today.
Web MD advised that in the event of battery ingestion or inhalation—or finding that a child has placed a battery in his/her ear, the following should be contacted immediately: The National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 1-202-625-3333 (the hotline accepts collect calls) or the National Poison Control Center, toll-free, at 1-800-222-1222. Both numbers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.