Warning sparked by battery dangers

An X-ray of a Queensland toddler who swallowed a battery that ended up lodged in his oesophagus.

An X-ray of a Queensland toddler who swallowed a battery that ended up lodged in his oesophagus.

CHOKING hazards for toddlers are high on the risk radar for most parents.

But what about the risk of a tiny battery burning a hole in their child's oesophagus or other organs, or possibly killing them?

Kidsafe Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and battery company Energiser have joined an international campaign called The Battery Controlled to raise awareness of just such a risk.

The batteries are found in many household items such as remote controls, calculators, hearing aids, bathroom scales, singing books and greeting cards, and flashing shoes.

If swallowed, the batteries can become lodged in the oesophagus, where they start a chemical reaction that can burn a hole through the flesh in less than two hours.

In fatal cases, they can also burn through the aorta or vital organs.

Kidsafe Tasmania chief executive Jenny Branch- Allen said the first official awareness week was an important way to get the message out to parents, childcarers and medical professionals.

"Just because a death hasn't happened yet in Tasmania doesn't mean it won't," she said.

A Devonport toddler is among the lucky ones to have survived such an ordeal.

In October, Tamara Mawer's daughter Leah Wright was rushed to the Launceston General Hospital after an X-ray revealed a battery stuck in her throat, although her mother had originally put the toddler's drooling and vomiting down to teething.

The girl had surgery to remove the battery, and suffered an ulcer and burn marks.

Launceston General Hospital paediatrics head Chris Bailey said it was important to seek medical attention quickly.

"The message is if parents note their children do swallow something, is not to wait for it to pass," Dr Bailey said.

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