The phrases “hazardous parts” or “choking hazard” usually lead people to think of plastic accessories, such as toy shoes or removable action figure limbs things that children might put into their noses or mouths. Very few might realize that "button batteries", circular, metallic, lithium-filled discs, are also such a hazard. However, studies show that button batteries can be even more hazardous than a simple toy shoe.
The number of hospital visits due to ingesting batteries is on the rise. Button batteries are everywhere, from toys to hearing aids to remote controls. As they become more common in appliances, more people are swallowing them too. In fact, over 3,000 Americans were rushed to hospitals in 2013 for having swallowed button batteries. That’s not all; there have been more than 56,000 reported battery swallowing incidents in the U.S. between 1985 and 2009.
The reason that swallowing button batteries is so hazardous is that they can obstruct the food pipe. Further, stomach acids can cause chemicals from the battery to leak and burn the esophagus. There have been 16 reported deaths from button battery swallowing between 1985 and 2013, four of which occurred in 2013.
Doctors go to great lengths to treat patients who swallow button batteries. For example, when nine-year-old Christopher Zahn, of Wisconsin swallowed a button battery in 2013, doctors waited overnight to see if the battery would pass through his digestive system on its own. When it did not, the doctors had to perform surgery to remove the battery. The surgery itself took only seven minutes, during which doctors stuck a tube with forceps down Zahn's esophagus. The surgery went well, and Christopher was able to go home the next day. However, others are not so fortunate. For example, one Arizona boy underwent 65 surgeries to recover from swallowing a battery in 2010.
It is important for parents to take precautions and protect their children from these hazardous batteries. To quote Christopher Zahn's mother, parents should instruct their children to remember: “food and drink are the only things that belong in your mouth.”
[Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]