Button cells: Ingestion can cause serious damage to health in young children

Button cells: Ingestion can cause serious damage to health in young children

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Small batteries: Ingestion can cause serious damage to children's health

Health experts advise parents to keep batteries out of the reach of children. Because swallowing button cells can lead to serious damage to health. Hundreds of such cases have been reported in recent years.

Foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract

Much of what you put in your mouth accidentally ends up in your stomach. This happens especially to small children. Swallowed small parts can lead to severe damage in the gastrointestinal tract. For some objects, such as swallowed magnets, you should quickly go to the doctor. Small batteries can also be dangerous. They should therefore be kept out of the reach of children, advise the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the BfR Commission to assess poisoning.

Keep batteries out of the reach of small children

Button cells can get stuck in the esophagus if swallowed and severely damage the mucous membrane. The BfR's “Assessment of Poisoning” commission therefore advises particular caution.

According to the information, the BfR has been informed of several hundred cases of clinics and poison information centers in the past ten years, in which button cells were swallowed.

The damage to health is primarily caused by the discharge current of the battery.

"We therefore advise all parents to keep button cells inaccessible to infants and toddlers," recommends BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel in a message.

"After swallowing a button cell, an examination should be carried out immediately in a clinic," said the expert.

If the button cell gets stuck in the esophagus

Due to the increasing spread of battery-operated devices in all areas of life, children can come into contact with button cells and swallow them.

It is problematic when a button cell gets stuck in the esophagus, because contact with the moist mucous membranes causes the current to flow.

This creates hydroxide ions at the interface between the button cell and the mucous membrane, which can lead to severe burns.

There is a particular risk for small children if large button cells (over 20 millimeters) are swallowed, as it is particularly likely that they will get stuck in the narrow child's esophagus.

If the button cell can pass through the esophagus, complications are rarely expected. According to the BfR, it is usually sufficient in these cases to wait for the button cell to naturally leave under medical supervision.

Complications can lead to death

If the button cell gets stuck in the esophagus, no symptoms or only slight discomfort initially develop.

After a few hours there is vomiting, loss of appetite, fever or cough.

As the process progresses, tissue damage increasingly occurs at the contact point between the button cell and the esophagus, which can lead to bleeding and tissue death.

As a long-term consequence, the esophagus can become scarred. In rare cases, the complications can lead to death.

The more the battery is charged, the more pronounced the damage to health can be.

The BfR recommends an immediate examination in the children's clinic if there is reason to suspect that a button cell has been swallowed. (ad)

Author and source information

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