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Warning against button battery ingestion injuries
December 2012
Safekids New Zealand issues warning over coin lithium batteries.

Safekids New Zealand and Consumer Affairs (now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) are giving life-saving information to parents and caregivers about the potential dangers of swallowing coin lithium batteries.

Coin lithium batteries, commonly found in singing greeting cards, talking books, key remotes, some TV remotes and other small electronic devices, can lodge in the throats of babies and young children.

Once lodged, saliva triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the oesophagus in as little as two hours. Repairing that damage is painful and can require feeding tubes, breathing tubes and multiple surgeries.

From March 2009 to February 2012, there have been 61 known battery ingestion-related cases at Starship Children's Health. 17 of the cases required general anaesthetic to have the battery removed and for further treatment.

A Little-Known Threat
The threat of button battery ingestion injuries is invisible. Many devices containing these batteries are not children's toys and have compartments that are easy to open.

"Too often, these devices are left within reach of young children. Talking books, singing greeting cards and car key remotes, for example, are often shared with children for their amusement. The batteries inside, if swallowed, can cause serious injury and even death," said Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids New Zealand.

Safekids New Zealand and Consumer Affairs want to raise awareness about this issue by providing easy steps that parents and caregivers can take to prevent injuries to children.

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