Button batteries can be deadly to youngsters
An online tool will help emergency medical staff and parents dealing with children who may have swallowed a button battery.
Coin-sized lithium batteries, used in many toys and gadgets, can cause serious burn injuries within two hours if swallowed or inserted in the nose or ears. This can result in severe tissue damage and even death.
The online tool provides vital diagnosis and treatment information, Safekids Aotearoa director Ann Weaver says.
She says doctors and emergency medical staff must pay close attention when presented with a child suspected of swallowing or inserting a button battery.
‘‘Symptoms of button battery exposure are similar to other common illnesses, such as coughing, drooling, loss of appetite and discomfort. In x-rays, button batteries can also be mistaken for a coin.’’
The National Poisons Centre has received 175 calls about children under 6 swallowing or inserting batteries in their nose and ears in the past three years. Sixty-one children were hospitalised at Starship from March 2009 to February 2012.
The new tool can also be used by parents and caregivers.
A child should be taken immediately to the nearest hospital emergency department even if there is a small possibility that a button battery has been swallowed or inserted in the nose or ears, Weaver says.