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Lithium coin-sized and smaller batteries, often referred to as button batteries, are commonly found in many household electronics – including toys, watches, cameras, games, hearing aids, and even singing or flashing greeting cards.
These flat, shiny batteries pose serious health risks for children, particularly toddlers who explore by putting things in their mouths. If swallowed, the button battery may stick in the throat or stomach, causing life-threatening burns and tissue damage as the chemicals leak out. Severe burns can occur in as little as two hours after swallowing. This injury is similar to a burn caused by swallowing a chemical drain cleaner. Both active and expired batteries can cause these severe injuries if swallowed.
According to the National Poison Data System, in 2017 there were 3,244 reported button battery ingestions - 1,986 instances occurred to children under 6 years of age.
Per Safe Kids Worldwide, button batteries were involved in 84 percent of all battery-related emergency room visits for which a battery type was identified.
If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery seek immediate medical attention even before symptoms appear. Symptoms may include coughing, drooling, trouble swallowing, and fever. Visit your local emergency department to receive an x-ray as soon as possible. Do not allow your child to eat or drink until after they receive an emergency department evaluation. Repairing the damage caused by the button battery may require multiple surgeries.
Electronics powered by button batteries are everywhere! It’s important to follow these safety tips:
Learn more about Safety Initiatives.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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