Four children hospitalized in one month at Ps del Gaslini after swallowing electric batteries. Advice for parents

The prognosis for a 17-month-old baby who had to undergo delicate emergency surgery and three weeks in resuscitation for having ingested a button cell was only resolved today. But the arrivals to Gaslinis PS for battery consumption are constant. Physicians draw attention to the prevention of this type of serious accident with potentially fatal outcomes


We arrived at the emergency room last night at Gaslini Pediatric Hospital in Genoa of a 2-year-old child who turned out to have swallowed a disc battery, but in the last few weeks the doctors have had to deal with 3 other cases of suspected button cell ingestion: One fortunately turned out to be a false alarm, another child was detained for observation when the radiological examination showed ingestion of a battery, and was discharged after 24 hours after the natural excretion in the feces and relatives controls. The third, a 17-month-old child who arrived at the emergency room on May 14 last year for vomiting with blood and anemia, underwent delicate acute endoscopic surgery to remove a button cell that caused necrosis to the tissues of the esophagus. And only today was the forecast resolved.

The doctors at the Genoese Children’s Hospital sound the alarm and draw the parents’ attention to the serious dangers of ingesting foreign bodies for the little ones.

“With our specialists, also in the light of a common interdisciplinary protocol, we have decided once again to draw parents’ attention to the prevention of this type of serious accident with potentially fatal outcomes. Gaslini’s medical-nurse task force was able to respond effectively and in a very short time; Unfortunately, however, these cases continue to arise: ingestion of the lithium battery still deserves the nickname silent killer, “he explains Raffaele Spiazzihealth director of the Gaslini hospital.

Ingestion of foreign bodies in the young child represents a real danger and a frequent reason to go to the emergency room, explains Emanuela Piccotti, director of the Gaslini Emergency Department. There are foreign bodies that are particularly dangerous and harmful to the internal structures of the organism: especially button, alkali or lithium batteries. These are metal discs the size of a button or a small coin that are found in toys, as well as in a variety of everyday tools such as clocks, alarm clocks, hearing aids, remote controls, etc.

Their adverse effect occurs due to the short circuit between the positive and negative pole, especially in the digestive segments in close contact with the mucous membranes and especially in the esophagus, where ulcerative lesions can potentially be present already after 2 hours after ingestion. Therefore, ingestion of a button cell, especially if it occurs far from the caregiver’s eyes, may cause intestinal bleeding, chest or back pain, sudden refusal to eat, vomiting, salivation, cough, and respiratory symptoms.

For this, the experts have suggested some tips to prevent accidents:
Do not allow small children to play or touch objects that contain batteries.
Be careful if preschoolers play with such objects.
Make sure that toys or objects for adults have a tightly closed space.
Do not “store” these batteries as it is difficult to store them all in safe places for children.
When replacing “used up” batteries, dispose of them in the appropriate containers without leaving them unattended.
If even you suspect that the child has ingested a button cell, go to the emergency room immediately or, if you can not, call 112/118.

June 8, 2022
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