Kids Health Alert: Increase in Button Battery and Magnet-Related Injuries
November 11, 2021
According to national data, emergency medical workers treat 55,000 to 60,000 children for injuries associated with swallowing foreign objects every year. Children under 5 who unintentionally ingest batteries, magnets, and other types of small, foreign objects account for the majority of annual hospitalizations. Because button batteries and magnets pose significant and unique risks that can be fatal, it is critical to take precautions to inhibit dangers.
Why are Button Batteries and Magnets so Dangerous for Kids and Teens to Ingest?
While toddlers face the highest risks for ingesting button batteries, magnets, and other foreign objects, these products endanger individuals of all ages, including teens and senior citizens. Button batteries are present in an array of household items like television remotes, flashlights, thermometers, calculators, certain toys, talking books, and games, tea light candles, and key fobs. In some cases, an ingested button battery will pass through a person’s intestine on its own but in others, batteries become lodged in the throat or intestines and release hydroxide, which causes catastrophic internal chemical burns. When someone swallows a lithium button battery and it gets stuck in the esophagus (throat), the person’s saliva actually triggers an electric current. This current causes a chemical reaction so strong that it can burn the esophagus in just two hours.
According to Denver Health, many parents and caregivers are unaware that a child has swallowed a button battery. For example, more than 60% of initial reports were misdiagnosed by medical workers. Although symptoms are not always present after a child accidentally swallows a button battery, some possible warning signs of ingestion include:
- A sudden onset of crying
- Breathing issues
- Difficulty swallowing
- Decreased eating and/or drinking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Hoarse voice
- Abdominal pain, blood in stool and/or stool
Swallowing a button battery is a medical emergency, so if you suspect that your child or teen has ingested one, take them to an emergency medical department or call 9-1-1 right away.
Similar to button batteries, magnets too pose a variety of significant health risks. When someone swallows two or more magnets, they can attract to one another and meet within the body, trapping tissue between them. When this happens the magnets can cut off blood supply to the stomach or intestines, which sometimes inflicts internal injuries so severe that they are deadly. The symptoms that someone may exhibit after swallowing one or more magnets are fairly indistinguishable from the symptoms associated with swallowing button batteries. If you suspect that someone has swallowed a magnet, it is critical to seek emergency medical attention right away.
Button Battery and Magnet Safety Tips
According to Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), the number of serious injuries or deaths associated with button batteries and magnets have increased ninefold in the last decade alone. Some of the organization’s top tips for safely securing button batteries and magnets in order to reduce injury rates include:
- Keep coin lithium battery and magnet-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children
- Keep loose batteries and magnets locked away. You can also place a piece of duct tape over a television controller or battery compartment to prevent children from gaining access
Filing a Legal Claim for Product-Related Injuries
Even when you take safety precautions, accidents still happen. Sometimes, however, a child sustains button battery or magnet-related injuries because of design, manufacturing, or marketing defects. Marketing defects often involve a manufacturer’s failure to warn. Failure to warn cases typically involve products that do not contain adequate warnings or instructions. A manufacturer may be found liable for a design defect if the product causes unreasonable risks associated with use. A manufacturing defect, on the other hand, is a defect in the product that the manufacturer did not intend.
Determining liability for a products liability claim is a complicated legal process, so it is best to have an experienced attorney on your side. For over seventy years at Galfand Berger, our team has represented thousands of individuals injured by dangerous and unsafe products. If you need help obtaining justice and compensation, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Helping Injured Individuals Since 1947
If you have a legal question or concern, please contact our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys. Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.