The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Illnois Attorney General Lisa Madigan discussed the dangers of button batteries at her annual news conference on the state's Safe Shopping Guide.
According to the article, more than 20 children suffered major injuries or died last year after swallowing button batteries. These small lithium batteries are used to power small electronic devices including remote controls, watches, musical cards and ornaments. The risk of these injuries has lead to public awareness campaigns geared to alerting parents to be careful with these devices and make sure the batteries don't come loose such that a child could decide to swallow it.
The Chicago Tribune reports that 80 cases of button battery ingestion were reported in Illinois and 3,500 cases nationwide in 2011. However, many authorities believe the actual number of battery swallowing incidents is probably much higher. Sadly, 10 child deaths have been associated with battery ingestion since 2008. In fact, moderate to fatal outcomes have risen sevenfold since 1985. Michael Wahl, medical director of the Illinois Poison Center associates the increase in serious injury is due to the proliferation of newer lithium batteries. These devices are more likely to get lodged in the throat or esophagus and cause serious damage.
As we have previously reported, the Consumer Products Safety Commission in conjunction with other groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, are working toward solutions to the problem. But for now, parents are warned to keep these batteries out of children's reach.