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CPSC Reports “Button Battery” Injuries Increasing

Earlier this year we presented information regarding the dangers of children swallowing “button batteries.”  Now, according to a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the number of children injured by batteries is growing.  Since 1998 the number of children treated for ingesting the batteries has increased 2.5-fold, from 1,900 in 1998 to 4,800 in 2010.  Thirteen children died from ingesting batteries from 2002 to 2010, compared to one in 1998.

The CPSC analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The researchers found an estimated 40,400 children younger than 13-years-old were treated in hospital emergency departments for battery-related injuries, including confirmed or possible battery ingestions, between 1997 and 2010. Nearly three quarters of the injuries involved children less than 4-years-old.

The CPSC urges the electronics industry and battery manufacturers to develop warnings and industry standards to prevent serious injuries and deaths from button batteries.  The button batteries can be found in toys, watches and hearing aids, and can result in choking deaths or serious burns to the stomach and esophagus due to acid burns from ruptured batteries.

Dr. Amanda Porro, a pediatrician at Miami Children’s Hospital, who was not involved with the report, said in an interview with HealthDay News, “The child may just have vague symptoms. Unless you have seen the child swallow the battery it’s very hard to diagnose and you have to have an x-ray to see the battery,” she said.

As a result, the CPSC reports in four of the fatal cases, patients were misdiagnosed and released, delaying identification and treatment. In each of the cases, the children were sent home where they later suffered a fatal hemorrhage several days to weeks later.

Typical symptoms associated with battery ingestion are relatively nonspecific, making the diagnosis difficult, particularly when ingestions go unwitnessed, according to the CPSC. Symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and difficulty in swallowing.

The CPSC published its findings in “Injuries from Batteries Among Children Aged <13 Years — United States, 1995–2010,” published in the Aug. 31 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Our Pennsylvania product liability attorneys encourage all parents and adults to follow the CPSC’s advice and ensure that products containing batteries are either kept away from children or that the batteries are secured safely in the product.  If you believe your child has swallowed a battery, do not hesitate to take him or her to the nearest emergency room.  Immediate care may make the difference in the recovery of your child.

About Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C.

Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C., is a Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm that represents car accident victims and their families throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, including those injured in accidents that involve speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving and careless driving in hazardous weather conditions. The Pennsylvania personal injury law firm’s additional practice areas include trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, toxic chemicals, workplace injuries, nursing home litigation and other serious accidents.

Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C., has offices throughout Pennsylvania, including Scranton, Stroudsburg, Carbondale, Plains, Hazleton and Hamlin. To contact the law firm, call (800) 318-LAW1, or visit the firm’s website.

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