More than one Aussie child is hospitalised each day due to accidental battery ingestion and three children have tragically died due to battery ingestion since 2013 in Australia.

This hidden danger in our homes, has leading cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp calling on Australian families to power their homes more safely, especially during lockdowns as we spend more time than ever indoors.

“Every year in Australia, one child a month is seriously injured by accidentally swallowing a button battery. Since it can result in serious injury to children, the most important thing is prevention and understanding all of the ways in which we can keep kids is safe is vital,” Dr Stamp tells Bounty Parents.  

In just two hours, a button battery and its chemical-burn effect can become deadly for a child, says Dr Stamp.

“The battery leaches chemicals that basically causes burns inside the child’s oesophagus, similar to an alkaline burn. The internal organs – the oesophagus, major blood vessels – are therefore at risk.

In some cases, children have died from these injuries,” adding, “The moment parents think something may have happened go to the emergency department. There’s no such thing as being too cautious here.”

More than one Aussie child is hospitalised each day due to accidental battery ingestion.

Possible coin battery ingestion symptoms, according to Dr Stamp

  • Noisy breathing (like a wheeze)
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • The child complaining of chest pain
  • Difficulty or pain on swelling
  • Appetite changes or not wanting to eat
  • Coughing/choking/gagging while eating or drinking

Dr Stamp advises this from experience, having operated on a child who had terrible injuries to their oesophagus and some of the major blood vessels in the chest after swallowing a button battery.

“They were incredibly sick and needed multiple surgeries. It was absolutely heartbreaking and has stuck with me all this time, making sure that children are safe wherever possible,” she says.

In just two hours, a button battery and its chemical-burn effect can become deadly for a child.

Button batteries are becoming more common in homes, advises Dr Stamp. US research shows that the most common uses of button batteries that were ingested include remote controls, games or toys, watches, flameless candles, kitchen scales and key fobs. Other places you can find them include small lights, garage door openers, medical devices, lighted jewellery, cards and talking books and thermometers.

Dr Nikki Stamp’s call to be aware of the potential dangers of lithium coin battery ingestion is in partnership with Duracell as part of its ‘Power Safer – Lithium Coin Battery Safety’ campaign, coinciding with the release of Bitrex technology on their lithium coin batteries, a non-toxic bitter transparent coating on the backside of batteries to discourage ingestion.

The Australian first innovation for their lithium coin batteries can provoke an instinctive reaction in children, encouraging them to spit the lithium coin battery with the coating out if they put the battery in their mouth.

Also supporting the introduction of the new technology – and this one simple switch to make homes safer – are THINK Child Care and CPR Kids.

Founding Director of CPR Kids and paediatric nurse Sarah Hunstead, says it’s a real risk since children are innately curious and putting everything in their mouth is a normal part of development.

“That is why it is of utmost importance to ensure that lithium coin batteries are kept away from young children. Child proof packaging and product innovations such as a bitter coating can be a deterrent and add an extra layer of safety to help protect children from the hidden dangers of lithium coin batteries,” Hunstead says.

Duracell’s Bitrex range is now available in Coles supermarkets.

Tips for reducing your child’s coin battery ingestion risk at home

  1. Find devices in the home that contain lithium coin batteries and swap these for Duracell lithium coin batteries with new bitter coating technology (CR2032, 2025, 2016). Store these devices out of the reach of children.
  2. Inspect devices and seal with secure tape any that do not have a screw on the battery compartment.
  3. Seal opened multi-packs with tape to ensure children cannot access remaining batteries.
  4. Wrap used lithium coin and button batteries in tape when disposing of them and ensure you dispose of all used batteries responsibly and immediately after removing from devices.
  5. When purchasing new batteries, select lithium coin batteries with safety features such as child resistant packaging and bitter coating that is designed to help reduce the occurrence of accidental ingestion.
  6. Lithium coin battery ingestion is a serious issue that can lead to death if not treated. If at any time a parent or caregiver suspects their child has swallowed a lithium coin battery, they should act fast and immediately go to their closest Emergency Department.