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Beware of 'potentially lethal' button batteries in toys this Christmas
24 December 2019, 08:32
Parents are being warned about "potentially lethal" button batteries this Christmas after a young girl who swallowed one almost died.
Children must be kept away from the small, flat batteries commonly found in toys, Christmas tree lights and novelty cards this festive season, NHS England has advised.
The warning comes after an almost fatal incident involving a two-year-old Sheffield girl named Elsie-Rose, who nearly died after swallowing one.
Her mother was told to give the young girl "one last kiss" as hospital staff feared she would not survive the ordeal.
However, doctors at Sheffield Children's Hospital successfully removed the battery from her throat following an operation, NHS England said.
The coin-sized batteries, containing acid, can burn through a child's oesophagus if accidentally swallowed.
NHS England medical director, Professor Stephen Powis said: "For toddlers, button batteries can look like sweets and are found in anything from toys, musical Christmas cards and festive decorations, so we want to ensure parents are aware of the dangers of these potentially lethal batteries.
"The best way to protect children is simply by keeping batteries out of reach for children and ensure that any toys that require the batteries are firmly locked into the battery compartment."
The professor advised parents to "urgently" take their child to A&E if they think their child may have swallowed a battery.
Earlier this year, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch issued a report featuring five safety recommendations to avoid repeats of the scare faced by Elsie-Rose.
They include improving button and coin cell battery safety and design, as well as supporting the clinical detection of ingested batteries.
NHS England has advised parents to follow the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) guidance on how to protect children from the items.
RoSPA suggestions to parents include ensuring that products using button batteries have lockable compartments, being vigilant around products that may contain button batteries, and making sure that any spare batteries are locked away.
Ashley Martin, RoSPA public health adviser said: "We would encourage people to be vigilant in ensuring that all products that contain button batteries are kept well away from young children.
"Christmas is a particularly important time as so many additional novelty products that contain button batteries, including musical cards, and battery-powered decorations are around the house.
"It's important to remember how harmful these products can be if picked up and swallowed."