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Button Batteries Are Holiday Hazard

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Button batteries are in many products these days including toys, Christmas ornaments, musical and talking Christmas cards and books.  Little children can find them and swallow them.  Children's Mercy Hospital's emergency room sees around one child a week who's swallowed a button battery.

Dr. Jennifer Lowry, medical toxicologist at Children's Mercy Hospital, says the majority of children who swallow one will be fine.  But in some children, the battery gets stuck in the esophagus.   The chemicals in the battery can burn the tissue and cause perforations and even death.

Dr. Lowry encourages adults to keep batteries out of the reach of children.

"If you're going to change out one of the batteries, making sure you throw them away right away instead of just leaving them on the counter," she says.

The doctor also says to try to avoid buying toys that have button batteries.

If you suspect your child has swallowed a battery, call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.  In many cases, children will be referred to an emergency room.

The symptoms may include vomiting, pain and fever.  Those are symptoms with many other conditions, so it can be hard to diagnose.  And it can take less than two hours for a battery to cause a serious burn in the esophagus.  So prevention is best.

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