JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - People across the First Coast unwrapped electronics and toys on Christmas morning. Now, health officials are warning parents that what's inside those gifts could cause serious health problems for children.
Small, round batteries, known as button batteries, are common in small electronics and toys.
“This is a very erosive product,” Lori Barnhart, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Jacksonville Kids Pediatrics, said. “It can get lodged in the throat and immediately cause damage to the surrounding tissue, causing burning, erosion of the tissue, it can cause infection [and] severe airway compromise.”
Similar issues can arise if the product makes it further in the digestive system, such as the stomach or intestines.
A local couple spoke with First Coast News in December 2016 about their experience with a button battery. Their little girl had put a remote in her mouth when the battery popped out. It burned her esophagus.
According to HealthyChildren.org, a website run by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3,000 button batteries are ingested each year in the United States.
Some objects listed on the website as containing button batteries are:
- Remote controls
- Games and toys
- Hearing aids
- Bathroom scales
- Key fobs
- Electronic jewelry
- Holiday ornaments
Additionally, it warns that button batteries stop powering devices long before they run out of charge. That means “dead” batteries could still arm children if put in the ear, nose or throat.
Barnhart urged parents to keep the batteries and products that contain them out of reach of children. If a child shows certain symptoms, parents should seek help immediately.
“Choking, coughing, vomiting, any kind of abdominal pain, fever, that's an immediate trip to the emergency room or call your local pediatrician,” Barnhart said.