The number of children being taken to A&E after swallowing foreign objects has doubled over the past two decades.
And of the cases where a battery was ingested, a huge 86% of them were button batteries.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is specific to children in the US.
And now experts across the world are warning parents to be vigilant.
In the UK, at least two children a year have died as a result of swallowing button batteries.
The devices are used in items such as toys, remote controls and birthday cards and while ingesting them can kill within hours, sometimes they sit undetected for months.
In the case of Shaylah Carmichael, 5, from Melbourne, Australia, horrified doctors discovered she had a button battery lodged in her throat for six months.
The device had been in there for so long, her oesophagus had grown around it and it was slowly eroding inside her body.
It was only when she suddenly began to lose weight and was refusing to eat food that doctors were able to diagnose the problem.
Shaylah was in a coma for almost three days and surgeons only just managed to save her life.
Earlier this month, a coroner who investigated the death of a baby who swallowed a button battery called for new laws requiring the devices to be properly secured inside products.
The parents of one-year-old Isabella Rees, from Australia, did not realise she had swallowed a button battery until after she died in hospital in 2015.
It was her fourth admission to the hospital in three weeks and despite her parents raising concerns she may have swallowed something, medical staff misdiagnosed the baby and discharged her.
In 2013, four -year-old Summer Steer died from acute blood loss several days after swallowing a button battery.
She had not told her family she had swallowed anything, so they did not know what was wrong.
The caustic reaction caused by the battery, which had lodged in her oesophagus, ate through to her aorta.
Toddler Emmett Rauch, from the US, underwent 65 surgeries and a tracheotomy just to be able to breath and speak again after ingesting the same device.
In Australia, an estimated four children a week go to A&E with an injury related to a button battery.
No obvious symptoms
Unfortunately, it may not be obvious that a button battery is stuck in a child’s throat. There are no clear specific symptoms associated with this. The child may:
- show signs of something stuck in the throat like coughing, gagging or drooling a lot
- appear to have a stomach upset or a virus
- point to their throat or tummy.
Other symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
But these sorts of symptoms vary.
One thing specific to button battery ingestion is vomiting fresh (bright red) blood. If the child does this then seek immediate medical help.
The lack of clear symptoms is why it is important to be vigilant with ‘flat’ or spare button batteries in the home and the products that contain them.
For more information on what to do if you think your child has swallowed a button battery, click here.
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