Paediatrician Warns Of The Dangers To Children Of Lithium Batteries

15 October 2014

Lithium Batteries

A leading paediatrician has called for a campaign to highlight the dangers of lithium batteries - often found in toys, keys and mobile phones - following the deaths of two children who accidentally swallowed them.

BBC News reports:

Dr Kate Parkins said, in the last 18 months, another five children in Greater Manchester have also suffered life-changing injuries as a result.

She said the button-shaped batteries "look like sweets" to children but can cause severe internal bleeding which medics struggle to treat.

"They look innocent enough and therefore nobody thinks to put them out of reach from children," she said.

One child died in May last year after a battery got lodged in the upper part of the feeding tube, she said.

"It had been removed and then, about a week later, caused catastrophic bleeding which we couldn't control."

According to Dr Parkins, the damage is done not by what the battery contains, but by a build-up of caustic soda caused by the battery's electrical current. She added that many doctors are unaware of this risk.

The children treated were aged between 12 months and six years old. Particular danger can be caused by  Lithium button batteries which measure more than 20mm (the size of a 10 pence piece).

Were you aware that lithium batteries can cause severe life-changing injuries? I don't mind admitting that this story served as something of a wake-up call to me. My one-year-old daughter can track down a remote control quicker than you can say Mary Poppins, and I've caught her dislodging the batteries on several occasions. They weren't lithium batteries in that case, but I have also today removed a packet of those from one of the kitchen drawers which my daughter likes to rifle through.

It's common sense, but worth repeating that it's advisable to move any items which contain lithium batteries out of reach of babies and young children, and it might also be worth updating your baby-proofing measures with battery dangers in mind.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents warns that Lithium batteries react with saliva and thus they can leak acid and cause severe trauma within as little as one hour. "If your child swallows a button cell battery, seek medical advice immediately," they advise. "Remember that the saliva in their body will react with the battery and so time is very much of the essence in these cases."

The Battery Controlled also has useful information on keeping children safe around batteries.

TOPICS:   Pregnancy

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