COLUMBUS, OH -- (Marketwire) -- 11/18/11 -- Seventy five percent of shoppers are expected to buy electronics this season, but before you buy even a single gift, a doctor at Nationwide Children's Hospital is urging you to pay close attention. A growing number of kids are getting seriously injured after swallowing "button batteries," which are often found in electronics and in holiday objects such as musical cards, toys and even ornaments.
"The incidence of battery ingestion nationally is rising," said Kris Jatana, MD , a head and neck surgeon at Nationwide Children's Hospital . Dr. Jatana was part of a panel that appeared before the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission urging tougher standards in how these button batteries are used. "Once a child swallows one of these button batteries, the clock is ticking. Serious injury can occur within just two hours," he said.
Commonly used button batteries are roughly the size of dimes and nickels, and, like those coins, often catch the eye of young children. "It's a shiny object, kids are curious and they inadvertently swallow them," said Dr. Jatana.
Even more alarming, parents often don't see their children swallow these batteries and there may not be any immediate symptoms that something is wrong. "If they do show symptoms," said Dr. Jatana, "it's usually things like irritability, fever, cough or vomiting - which parents often confuse with common symptoms from viral infections."
That's what happened to toddler Max Sadauskas. "He didn't show any signs that he had swallowed anything," said his mother Susan. Max started vomiting and an x-ray confirmed that he had ingested a battery from a stereo remote. Max was rushed to Nationwide Children's Hospital where Dr. Jatana performed surgery.
"The doctor told us we were very lucky that we found it pretty quickly," said his father Mark. Today Max is fine and there is no long-term damage, but if batteries are lodged in the body for more than two hours, they can erode through tissue causing permanent injury, even death.
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