Battery-Ingestion Epidemic

Battery Ingestions:

- most often obtained directly from a product (61.8%)
- were loose (29.8%)
- were obtained from battery packaging (8.2%)

Of young children who ingested the most hazardous battery, the 20-mm lithium cell, 37.3% were intended for remote controls.

Adults most often ingested batteries that were sitting out, loose, or discarded (80.8%); obtained directly from a product (4.2%); obtained from battery packaging (3.0%); or swallowed within a hearing aid (12.1%). Batteries that were intended for hearing aids were implicated in 36.3% of ingestions. Batteries were mistaken for pills in 15.5% of ingestions, mostly by older adults.

There was a 6.7-fold increase in the percentage of button battery ingestions with major or fatal outcomes from 1985 to 2009 (National Poison Data System). Ingestions of 20- to 25-mm-diameter cells increased from 1% to 18% of ingested button batteries (1990–2008), paralleling the rise in lithium-cell ingestions (1.3% to 24%).

Outcomes were significantly worse for large-diameter lithium cells (20 mm) and children who were younger than 4 years. The 20-mm lithium cell was implicated in most severe outcomes. Severe burns with sequelae occurred in just 2 to 2.5 hours. Most fatal (92%) or major outcome (56%) ingestions were not witnessed. At least 27% of major outcome and 54% of fatal cases were misdiagnosed, usually because of nonspecific presentations. Injuries extended after removal, with unanticipated and delayed esophageal perforations, tracheoesophageal fistulas, fistulization into major vessels, and massive hemorrhage.


A Lithium Battery in a Hotdog: the picture burns itself into mind - keep out of reach of small children

Image source: Amazon, for illustrative purposes only, NOT a suggestion to buy any product.

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