Button and Coin Battery ingestionbipbadev2021-11-04T12:57:28+00:00
Button and Coin Battery resources and safety information
The industry takes battery safety seriously. BIPBA continues to raise awareness of the issues associated with children accidentally swallowing these types of batteries through a variety of awareness raising programmes.
Button and coin cell batteries pose a potential risk if swallowed by a child. In partnership, BIPBA and CAPT have created a number of resources which aim to inform parents and clinicians about the potential risks of these batteries, and how to minimise the chances of accidents occurring in the home.
Button batteries are small, round, silver-coloured batteries that come in many different sizes and types. They power many of devices from remote controls, key fobs, watches to toys. Most button batteries pass through the body without a problem, however in very young children they can pose a risk if ingested.
Lithium button batteries (often called ‘coin batteries’ or ‘coin cell batteries’) are more powerful than button batteries and are also bigger in size. The larger lithium coin cell battery – for example a 3V CR2025, CR2032, CR2330 or CR3032 – pose the greater risk to young children.
If a lithium coin cell battery gets stuck in the oesophagus, energy from the battery reacts with saliva to create caustic soda. This can burn through a child’s food pipe, to the main artery and may lead to serious internal burns, which can result in chronic health problems or death unless there is rapid medical intervention.
Such situations require urgent medical attention to immediately remove the battery.
We are aware of research that has been undertaken in recent years, primarily in the US, on ‘Quantum Coating’ technology for button and coin cell batteries. At this present time however, the technology is not commercially available.
Battery manufacturers are continuously investigating new battery designs to find a long-term solution.
In an emergency
Take children straight to the A&E department at your local hospital or dial 999 for an ambulance.
Tell the doctor there that you think your child has swallowed a button battery.
If you have the battery packaging or the product powered by the battery, take it with you. This will help the doctor identify the type of battery and make treatment easier.
Do not let your child eat or drink.
Do not make them sick.
Trust your instincts and act fast – do not wait to see if any symptoms develop.
No obvious symptoms
Unfortunately, it is not obvious when a button or coin cell battery is stuck in a child’s food pipe. There are no specific symptoms associated with this. The child may:
Vomit fresh (bright red) blood.
cough, gag or drool a lot
appear to have a stomach upset or a virus
point to their throat or tummy
have a pain in their stomach, chest or throat
be tired or lethargic
be quieter or more clingy than usual or otherwise ‘not themselves’
lose their appetite or have a reduced appetite
not want to eat solid food / be unable to eat solid food.
Symptoms can vary, not every child presents the same symptoms. If in doubt, act quickly and take your child to the nearest A&E department.
Practical safety tips
Look around in your house and identify which toys and gadgets use button batteries
Do not leave discarded button batteries laying around loose in the house. Always store them out of sight and reach of young children
Pay attention to the labelling and instructions of the toy/appliance you purchase
Look out for the safety pictogram ‘keep out of reach of children’ ISO 7010
Try to opt for toys with a CE marking with a secured battery compartment
Make sure that you securely fasten the battery compartment after replacing the button batteries of a product
Do not store small batteries in pill boxes or place them together with medication. Their shape and size make them easily mistaken for medication
Bring waste button batteries to a collection point so they can be recycled. Batteries at the end of life should be disposed of appropriately
The British and Irish Portable Battery Association (BIPBA) is the trade association for the portable battery industry for the UK and Ireland.