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Button Batteries

Button Battery Ingestions Leading to More Pediatric ED Visits

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Button batteries, tiny disks found in many common devices today (e.g., toys, remotes, watches), are causing more children to visit the emergency department (ED).

Researchers used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to find data regarding battery-related ED visits that occurred from 2010 to 2019 among patients age 18 years and younger. During the study period, the authors found more than 70,000 battery-related ED visits occurred.

Most of these visits occurred among children age 5 years and younger. Button batteries were the culprit in about 84% of visits where battery type was included. Battery ingestions accounted for most visits (90)%, followed by nasal insertions (5.7%), ear insertions (2.5%), and mouth exposures (1.8%). Generally, there was an average of one battery-related pediatric ED visit every 1.25 hours between 2010 and 2019 vs. one every 2.66 hours between 1990 and 2009.

In addition to the choking hazard button batteries pose, these disks generate electric currents that can harm living tissue. There can be delayed complications even after battery removal, some of which may be life-threatening.

“Despite all existing injury prevention efforts, battery-related ED visits remain too frequent. Regulatory efforts and adoption of safer [button battery] designs by industry to reduce or eliminate ingestion injuries in children are critically needed,” the authors concluded.

For more on this and other related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Pediatric Emergency Medicine Reports.