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Kids Swallowing Button Batteries

Dad's Crushing Warning About the Common Household Item That Killed His Toddler

Through a stream of hot tears, George Asan speaks out about the common household item that killed his daughter: a button battery.

Although 2-year-old Francesca didn't choke on the small battery and die from lack of oxygen, George wants parents to know that this is exactly why these items are even more dangerous than many realize. After Francesca swallowed the button battery without her parents knowing, it started to corrode as soon as it came into contact with fluid internally. This caused internal bleeding as the battery burned the child.

"It is very hard for me to talk about losing Francesca. I feel guilty. Unfortunately, we didn't see anything wrong, no signs," George said in a clip made with Child Accident Prevention Trust to warn other parents. "We found that it was a button battery and straight away I went to the cabinet and we had the 3D glasses for the TV. It was one of the spare batteries, in the original box of the glasses, which was in another box."

More than 3,400 kids swallowed button batteries in 2010, according to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and symptoms could include sudden crying, drooling, decreased eating or drinking, hoarse voice, chest or abdominal pain, trouble swallowing, vomiting, and blood in saliva and stool.

George hopes that parents share this film to raise awareness for not only how dangerous these button batteries are but also how common they are throughout the home. From musical greeting cards and toys to thermometers and key fobs, a range of everyday items come with these batteries and, sometimes, spare batteries.

According to the CAPT, parents shouldn't wait to seek immediate medical assistance if they suspect their child ate one — even if the kid isn't choking or showing any signs of distress.

"If a button battery, particularly a lithium button battery, gets stuck in the throat or gullet, energy from the battery can react with saliva to make the body create caustic soda. This is the same chemical used to unblock drains," the CAPT website says. "This can burn a hole through the throat and can lead to serious internal bleeding and death. The reaction can happen in as little as two hours."

The CAPT warns that these batteries are also dangerous if they get stuck in a child's nose or ear, but the lack of symptoms after a child swallows it can make this even more dangerous. "Unfortunately it may not be obvious that a button battery is stuck in a child's throat. There are no specific symptoms associated with this," the website said. "They may appear to have a stomach upset or a virus. The lack of clear symptoms means it may not be obvious that your child has swallowed a button battery until it's too late. This is why it is important to be vigilant with spare button batteries in the home and the products that contain them."

These are tips to follow if you think that your child swallowed a button battery:

  • Seek immediate medical help.
  • Bring the packaging if possible to help doctors identify what type of button battery was potentially ingested.
  • Do not let them eat, drink, or try throwing it up.
  • Do not try to wait it out to see if symptoms develop.
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