Dubai hospital chief warns about dangers of children swallowing lithium coin batteries

Current from battery reacts quickly with saliva and can cause serious serious injury or even death

A Dubai hospital has launched a campaign warning parents of the risks posed to children by swallowing lithium coin batteries. AFP
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Parents and childminders must be alert to the danger of children swallowing lithium coin batteries, a hospital chief has said.

A campaign has been launched by Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital to educate people on the threat posed by the batteries and how to administer first aid if a child swallows one.

“Young children are curious by nature and part of their exploration of the world around them can include putting things in their mouths,” said Dr Mohamed Al Awadhi, chief operating officer at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital.

"This makes it particularly important to keep dangerous objects like small batteries safely stored away.

“Through more discussions about this important topic, we can make sure parents don’t have to go through such a horrendous experience with their children.”

The campaign was launched in association with battery manufacturers Duracell, who have run similar initiatives across the world.

An X-ray shows a coin lodged in the throat of a child who was treated at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

Lithium coin batteries are found in remote controls, toys, games and various other household items.

The American Academy of Paediatrics says these small-sized, lithium batteries possess a strong electrical charge.

If a coin battery becomes stuck in a child’s oesophagus it can cause serious harm, especially if not detected immediately.

The current from the battery reacts quickly with saliva and can cause serious injury and illness, long-term disability or even death.

In April 2019, doctors at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City told The National they see an average of 15 cases per month of children swallowing foreign bodies – the bulk of which are dirhams.

The hospital said 258 children were admitted in an 18-month period between 2016 and 2018 after swallowing small objects, the majority involving children aged 2 to 4. In total, the hospital has spent more than Dh600,000 ($163,350) on treatment.

Updated: October 31, 2021, 2:09 PM