Study: More Young Kids Going to ER After Swallowing Batteries, Coins, Toys

April 25, 2019 Updated: April 25, 2019

More and more young children are being admitted into emergency rooms across America because they have swallowed batteries, toys, coins, and other items, according to a new study.

One researcher, Dr. Danielle Orsagh-Yentis, the lead author and a gastrointestinal physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, said that an increasing number of products have button-sized batteries such as TV remotes, digital thermometers, and remote-controlled toys, according to The Associated Press.

In 2015, there were 43,000 ER visits among children under the age of 6. In 1995, there were 22,000, according to a study published in mid-April in the journal, Pediatrics, CBS News reported.

The rate increased from about 10 per 10,000 ER visits to 18 per 10,000 visits, CBS noted.

2-Year-Old Dies

In 2015, 2-year-old Brianna Florer, of Oklahoma, died around Christmas after swallowing a button battery. “On Saturday she was fine,” said grandfather Kent Vice, according to a GoFundMe page. “It was a perfect Christmas,” he added.

“They believed the battery (acid) ate through to her carotid artery by way of her esophagus. … We had no idea when she swallowed it.”

Posted by New York Daily News on Friday, January 1, 2016

Brianna celebrated Christmas with her family and got new toys as gifts. The New York Daily News reported that she opened gifts at her grandparents’ house one day after Christmas but had a fever.

“She threw up again,” Vice added. “It was a massive amount of blood, and they rushed her to the Grove hospital.”

Vice said her family had no idea when she swallowed the tiny battery, Tulsa World reported.

“I want to keep these things out of houses,” he said. “They are dangerous.”

Study Details

Dr. Orsagh-Yentis told CBS that her interest in studying the increase in ER visits increased because “we were all being called in in the middle of the night at odd hours to remove foreign bodies from either the esophagus or stomachs of children.”

About 90 percent of the children who visited the ER were sent home without incident, but some severe internal injuries and deaths have been reported, as in the aforementioned case with 2-year-old Brianna.

The number of children rushed to U.S. emergency rooms because they swallowed toys, coins, batteries and other objects has nearly doubled, a new study says.

Posted by CBS News on Friday, April 12, 2019

Batteries are quite dangerous, said experts, who have added that children who swallow them might complain of abdominal pain or vomit.

Orsagh-Yentis said they “should be brought to the emergency room as quickly as possible,” CBS reported.

Small high-powered magnets are among the most dangerous objects for children, according to one expert, as they can pinch together inside intestines and cause internal damage. They can even create holes, leading to blood poisoning.

“They can go through the esophagus into the stomach and GI [gastrointestinal] tract,” Dr. Amyna Husain, a pediatric emergency medicine physician, told CBS.

She added, “If you have two magnets in different parts of the tissue and they attract each other, the tissue between the two can get pinched off and you lose blood circulation.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued warnings about magnets and small batteries.

A button battery (Public Domain)

“Of all the risks we want to talk to our kids about, it’s such a simple thing to make them aware that these things could cause serious injury and to keep them not only away from their mouth but any other opening of the body,” explained Husain. “And if they are accidentally ingested, they should take it seriously and let someone know right away so they can be brought to the emergency room to be evaluated immediately.”

Morag Mackay of Safe Kids Worldwide, an injury prevention advocacy group, said that more research is needed, according to AP.

In the meantime, parents and guardians should be vigilant.

“Try to see the world from a child’s point of view by getting on the floor so that you are at your child’s eye level. Keep small objects such as coins, batteries, magnets, buttons or jewelry out of reach and sight,” Mackay said.