The Dangers of Button Battery Ingestion for Children


In order to make your home safe for infants or children, you must always sweat the small things, which include chemicals under the sink, sharp corners, laundry detergent pods, and even the electrical outlets that can be potential hazards for the little ones.

Another common household item that may not be on top of the mind for most people is the small button batteries inside the electronic devices. These coin-shaped batteries can be found in thermometers, remote controls, calculators and toys, etc.


What are the Button Batteries?

Button batteries, also called coin cell batteries, are small round batteries that can be found in several small electronics, as most homes tend to use these small electronics. As the button batteries are very small in size, therefore, the risk of these batteries getting in the hands of infants who are curious and crawling can increase.


How children get injured by the Button Batteries?

When these batteries contact the body fluids, they can generate a current that produces sodium hydroxide in small amounts, which is lye. If this battery gets stuck somewhere in the child's body, the lye can burn a hole at that spot. Normally, infection follows, and the result can be quite a serious injury or illness, long-term disability, and even death.



When a child ingests a button battery, the symptoms can either be absent or similar to that of a common infection. So, it can be challenging for the healthcare professionals to evaluate the child.

  • When the button battery is placed in the ear and nose

In case it is placed in the ear or nose, there might be pain or noticeable drainage. As the symptoms are not unique to the button battery injuries, and the parents may not see the child ahold of the battery, there can be a greater injury or a delayed diagnosis.


  • When the button battery is lodged in the esophagus

When it is in the esophagus, the lye that is produced by the electric current can produce burns at this site. Therefore, the esophagus and other structures in the chest can get damaged, including lungs, windpipe, and large blood vessels. Normally serious infections follow, and bleeding caused by the blood vessel damage can create a life-threatening emergency.


What should the parents and caregivers do?

The parents and caregivers must never assume that every battery-powered product that enters the home is safe for children's use. There are many products in which a battery is accessible easily, and it can fall out when the particular product is dropped. Therefore, it is important for you to ensure that the battery compartments present in all electronic items are taped shut and secure.

When you replace a button battery, you have to make sure that it stops powering the device before running out of charge. A dead battery still has a charge that can be harmful to children if caught in their nose, ear, throat, or swallowing passage. So, the higher the voltage of the battery, the faster the injury.


Bottom Line

The parents and caregivers need to be aware of the risk that the button batteries pose in their home. The loose and spare batteries must be locked away, and any product that uses the button batteries must be locked and kept out of reach of the curious children. The parents should also know what to do if the children manage to ingest one. Therefore, you should be talking to your pediatrician if you have any questions regarding your children's safety.