Button Battery Risk for Children

Coin-sized lithium button batteries can cause severe injuries when swallowed.

Small electronic devices are often powered by coin-sized button batteries.  If swallowed these batteries can get stuck in a child’s throat and can cause severe burns or even death.

U.S. poison control centres advise that some 3,500 cases involving children swallowing button batteries are seen each year. In Australia, an estimated four children per week present to an emergency department with an injury related to a button battery. Children under 5 are at the greatest risk.

Should a child swallow a small battery their symptoms may be similar to other illnesses, such as coughing, drooling and discomfort. Children can usually breathe with the battery in their throat, making the problem difficult to spot.

Serious injuries or death in children as a result of their swallowing button batteries are becoming more common. The most serious cases involve the 10 cent sized batteries but all such batteries are hazardous. Should a battery get caught in a child’s throat it can burn through the oesophagus in as little as two hours. The surgical response to an injury of his type can require feeding and breathing tubes and multiple operations.

Many slim, sleek devices have battery compartments that are easy to open (e.g. remote controls, small calculators, watches, key fobs, flameless candles, singing greeting cards) and most parents do not know there is a risk.

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Take Charge. Act Now

  1. Keep devices with button batteries out of reach of small children and lock away any loose batteries.
  2. Should a child swallow a button battery take the child immediately to hospital emergency. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.
  3. Share this information with others.

Learn more

The Battery Controlled is a campaign launched by Energizer, in partnership with Kidsafe and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to alert parents and other caregivers to the hidden danger of swallowing coin-sized lithium button batteries.

Poisons Information Centre: 13 11 26

Kidsafe ACT Button Battery Research Report

Data provided by Dr Toby Litvotiz and the National Capital Poison Center based on incidents reported to U.S. poison control centres.

Data for Australian estimates provided by Dr Ruth Barker, Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit