The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report recently indicating a growth in the number of incidents involving children ingesting batteries. The report noted that in 1998, 1,900 children in the United States visited an emergency room due to battery-related concerns. In 2010, that number had grown to an alarming 4,800 cases.
The CDC report further indicated that of the 40,000 children who visited an emergency room during the period from 1997 through 2010 for battery-related issues, about 75 percent were under the age of four. Fourteen of those children died and 10 children were required to remain in the hospital.
The research indicated that the most common batteries involved in these consumer product accidents were small, button-sized batteries used for small devices such as hearing aids and watches. Twelve of the 14 children who died during this time were exposed to button batteries.
Complications from these batteries can be fatal. They can lodge in the child's esophagus, causing a buildup of hydroxide, which burns the child. They can also leak corrosive chemicals into the child. The small batteries can cause tissue death in children, depending on where they become lodged. Immediate symptoms following battery ingestion include abdominal pain, fevers, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, some children with batteries lodged in their throats have difficulty breathing.
According to the CDC, battery standards are in place for toys that contain batteries. These are required by law. However, toys for children over the age of 12 and other household appliances and devices do not require a warning.
Parents of children who have sustained injuries due to this type of incident may wish to speak to a personal injury attorney about the case. This is especially true in instances in which toys marketed to children under 12 years of age do not have proper warnings.
Source: Web MD, "Tiny Batteries a Rising Risk for Children," Matt McMillen, August 30, 2012.