Each week, 20 Aussie youngsters are hospitalised after swallowing button batteries, found in bathroom scales, some remotes, toys and watches.
Doctor John Curotta, an ear, nose and throat specialist, has warned the batteries can quickly damage soft tissue if eaten.
He told 7 News, "If they go into your gullet and get stuck there, the secretions act like caustic soda.
"We've had two children die in Australia from the battery eroding through and the child bleeding to death."
The batteries can burn through flesh and cause severe problems in just two hours.
One child, recently lost half his oesophagus after swallowing a battery.
And another, a six-year-old boy, was taken to hospital after telling his dad he'd ingested a battery, which showed up when he was given an x-ray.
Most children rushed to hospital after ingesting a battery are under six years old.
Product Safety Australia has launched a campaign to highlight the dangers of the batteries.
Symptoms of swallowing a button battery may include:
- chest pain
- abdominal pain,
- not eating hard food, or
Button batteries are found in common devices:
- bathroom scales
- hearing aids
- reading lights
- flameless candles
- games and toys
- torches and laser lights
- remote control devices that unlock car doors and control MP3 speakers, and
- musical greeting cards.
What to do if parents believe their child may have swallowed a button battery:
If parents believe their child has swallowed a battery, first call the 24 hour Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for fast expert advice. They may encourage you to call an ambulance on 000. Do not give any food or water.
This article first appeared on That's Life!.