Alert after 15 children taken to hospital in Sheffield after swallowing batteries

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Parents are being warned to take extra care with button batteries after 15 children were taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s emergency department having swallowed them in the last year.

The Children’s Hospital warned that some parents may be unaware of the significant risks posed by the small, round batteries – known as button batteries – which are common in a variety of gadgets such as watches, car keys, night lights, musical greeting cards, remote controls and calculators.

If swallowed, button batteries can burn into a child’s throat and harm vital organs, causing permanent damage or death.

This is because the electrical current from the battery reacts with the moisture from the body to create sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda – a chemical so powerful it is used as drain cleaner.

Deirdre O’Donnell, an emergency consultant at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “If somehow your child does swallow a button battery, take them to your nearest A&E department immediately. While most of these will pass through your child’s gut uneventfully, it is possible that doctors may have to operate on your child, so get to the hospital promptly.”