Study: Little batteries big risk to kids who swallow them

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The littlest household items could be a big threat to your little ones.

A new study released on Monday shows the increased risk of kids swallowing button batteries.

The coin-shaped batteries can be found in everything from remote controls to hearing aides, even toys.

Max Sadauskas is 2 years-old now, but when he was 15 months-old, he gave his parents a scare they’ll never forget.

His parents, Mark and Susan, said Max started vomiting but had no other symptoms.

The Mom and Dad rushed him to the hospital, where X-rays showed Max had swallowed a button battery from a remote control and it was lodged in his esophagus.

“We looked at each other and started crying. Like, 'This isn't happening',” Mark said.

Max had to go under the knife to get the battery out.

“He came out of surgery screaming for us, so that was a very good sign,” Susan said.

A study published in the journal “Pediatrics” said every three hours, a child under the age of 18 goes to the emergency room for a battery-related problem, and that number has doubled in the last 20 years.

“You may not realize a small child has swallowed one of these and has it stuck in their throat,” said Dr. James Fenno, an Emergency Room physician at Sacred Heart Hospital.

Dr. Fenno said ER workers at Sacred Heart see a steady stream of little tykes come in with button batteries in them.

“That battery can start to short out and cause an electrical current through the tissues,” Dr. Fenno said.

Doctors say a lithium battery can burn holes in the esophagus, possibly leading to serious injury, voice damage or even death.

Dr. Fenno said the batteries are often removed with a special tube going down the child’s throat or making it pass through their system.

“Time is of the essence and if we can get to that button battery within two hours, we can reduce the chance of damage being done,” Dr. Fenno said.

The electronics industry has just adopted new standards to childproof devices, like using a tough screw to hold in the battery compartment.

For old devices, doctors recommend taping them shut and keeping them out of the reach of kids.

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