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Little kids have been swallowing those little batteries that go in toys and watches.
Within the past week the Nebraska Regional Poison Center has taken four calls regarding battery ingestion. The most recent calls involved two watch batteries, two toy batteries and a battery out of a musical greeting card. All of the recent calls involved children under age 6, said center spokeswoman Joan McVoy.
The coin-size batteries can be found in most remote-control devices, talking and singing books, reading lights, flashlights, flameless candles, bathroom scales, hearing aids and car remotes.
The symptoms of battery ingestion can mimic common illnesses that children have, such as a fever or upset stomach, McVoy said. A recent study found that more than 60 percent of incidents initially were misdiagnosed.
Button-battery-related incidents resulting in severe injury and fatality have increased sevenfold since 1985, health officials said. In 2010 alone more than 3,400 ingestions were reported in the United States.
Batteries may become lodged in the throat or intestines, and that can result in a dangerous chemical burn. Lithium button batteries pose a serious problem, McVoy said, because saliva can trigger an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus.
The poison center staff checks back with parents who report such ingestions to make sure the child passes the battery, McVoy said. Parents are advised to have their child drink more fluids and eat a lot of fiber.
It's not just children who have been ingesting the batteries, McVoy said. Older people sometimes hold hearing-aid batteries in their mouths while replacing an old battery and accidentally swallow them, she said. They also may mistake the batteries for pills.
The poison center said parents should follow these steps to prevent battery ingestion:
» Discard button batteries carefully.
» Do not allow children to play with button batteries, and keep them out of children's reach.
» Caution hearing-aid users to keep hearing aids and batteries out of the reach of children.
» Never put button batteries in your mouth for any reason, as they are easily swallowed.
» Always check medications before ingesting them.
» Keep remotes and other electronics out of your child's reach if the battery compartments do not have a screw to secure them. Use tape to help secure the battery compartment.
People with questions may call the poison center at 800-222-1222.
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