Those Cute As a Button Batteries, Can Damage Toddlers Permanently, If Swallowed


Surgeons said that if these button batteries are swallowed, some among the many ways it can harm the individual, is getting stuck in the esophagus (eating pipe), the digestive juices could corrode and try to digest the metal battery casing. If any battery liquid comes out, it could burn through the internal organs.

In UK, there has been a surge of cases where little kids have swallowed those button batteries.

One such case was in Northern Ireland, in 2015, where 3-year-old Valeria, now suffers from permanent injuries to her throat after she ingested a watch battery in 2015.

After this, the battery got stuck in her food pipe, she felt sick and started to lose her appetite. When her condition worsened within the week, an X-ray was conducted and it showed the battery had burnt hole through her food pipe and airways.1

She was then rushed to

get a number of surgeries and due to the chemical damage, most of her esophagus was taken out. Due to this, Valeria can’t eat or drink properly, so doctors made a hole in her neck with a bag attached to it so that anything she eats, drinks or even saliva will go straight into the bag. A special button was also put on her belly so that liquid food goes straight in there and would not get into her lungs instead.


As part of a permanent solution, surgeons put a metal piping like support, also called a stent into the remnants of Valeria’s esophagus which will connect and keep her stomach upright in its position and allow for a new food pipe to be created.

After spending nine months in the hospital, Valeria, now gets specialist therapy every few weeks.

Another case which happened in Surrey, was when 18-month old, Catharina Santos, swallowed a button battery that she that she took

out of a bathroom weight scale at home.

Her mother rushed her to the hospital, but within three hours, the battery had already burned through her windpipe. Catharina was then fed through a tube and required a very complicated surgery to fix her windpipe.

What happens when a battery enters the body is the mucous membranes of the food and wind tracts, start to react with the metal creating an almost electric reaction and the battery actually starts to be used as if the surfaces are two conductor springs in an electrical device.

This then creates a caustic soda like reaction which is what erodes the wind and food pipes. In a worst case scenario, when the battery was lodged into any other part of the body or went deeper, it burnt a hole in the heart and blood vessels, causing the children in some cases to bleed to death.


Advice from the parents of these kids and surgeons are to keep

these batteries or whatever objects use them, away from children or in places that are not reachable to them. Hospitals are now creating an awareness campaign because they were seeing almost one such case every month, all involving toddlers.

A consultant surgeon at Alder hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, Ray Clarke, said in some cases, kids had put these batteries up their noses and this resulted in making a hole in the nasal septum (the skin and bone partition between the nostrils) or even putting them in their ears which caused inflammation.

These seemingly harmless little button batteries are there all over our houses, especially in toys or objects that attract kids to play with them. But the dangers are not that widely spoken about, especially the ones that have lithium in them.

In 2014, US engineers had invented a battery which had a special casing where the battery only conducted electricity when it was squeezed or put in a battery socket.

But, this has not been applied or used by many manufacturers, although the British and Irish Portable Battery Association (BIPBA) are looking

out for implementing such designs.

Strongly stating that customer safety comes first, battery companies are now putting bigger warnings on products about the dangers it can cause. However, there is a hope that more creative ways to deal with this will come up and these warnings do not bypass that safety radar and go completely unnoticed.