Small Batteries, Other Shiny Objects Pose Risks to Children

FRIDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Coins, magnets and small batteries pose serious dangers to children when accidentally swallowed, the American College of Emergency Physicians warns.

Not only are these objects potential choking hazards, some can cause severe internal damage.

"Items like these are small and shiny and attractive to young children," college president Dr. David Seaberg said in an organization news release. "They are easily accessible to kids. Small batteries, for example, are often found in a child's toy and from that child's perspective, they can look like pieces of candy."

If swallowed, small batteries used in many toys and remote controls can get stuck in a child's esophagus or gastrointestinal tract. If not removed quickly, the batteries can erode tissue.

A life-threatening situation can occur if a child swallows small but powerful neodymium (a type of metal) magnets. The magnets can attract each other inside the child's body and trap tissue between them. The resulting pressure can cause internal damage serious enough to require surgery.

The physicians group also noted that doctors are seeing cases of teens accidentally swallowing the small magnets when they use them to mimic jewelry piercings in the mouth and nose.

"Emergency physicians are experts at treating any pediatric emergency," Seaberg said. "But we need parents to be aware of the dangers and work to combat this at home."

Parents need to know what their young children are playing with at all times and keep choking hazards away from them, experts advise. If parents suspect a child may have swallowed something potentially hazardous, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about the dangers of magnetic toys.

SOURCE: American College of Emergency Physicians, news release, May 30, 2012

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