Your Healthy Family

May 23, 2012 9:25 AM by Jennifer Horbelt

Your Healthy Family: Dangers of button cell batteries 5-23-12

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- A local girl is lucky to be alive after her mother says she swallowed two batteries.

This story has been all over the news lately: an increase in children swallowing button cell batteries, getting sick, and in some cases dying.

Renee Garcia's 5-year-old daughter Kellsey came down with what appeared to be a stomach bug in late March. Doctors discovered two batteries, one in Kellsey's stomach and the other lodged in her esophagus, just in time. Now, this Colorado Springs mom wants every parent to be aware of just how common these batteries are and how dangerous they can be.

Kellsey Garcia is a vivacious and energetic 5-year-old.

"It gives me goose bumps just telling it," her mom, Renee, said of what happened to her daughter nearly two months ago. "I was not aware. I have five children and I was not, I had never heard ever heard of this before."

Two tiny batteries, about the size of a nickel, nearly took Kellsey's life. While on a trip in March, Renee's daughter, who was born with down syndrome, started acting sick. She had a cough, runny nose and trouble keeping any food down.

"I didn't worry too much about it," Renee said. "She presented like a stomach virus."

After asking Kellsey doctor to take another look at what was happening to her daughter, an x-ray showed a spot in Kellsey's stomach and in her esophagus. Two button cell batteries Dr. Amethyst Kurbegov, Professor of Pediatric Gastroenterology with Children's Hospital Colorado, removed from Kellsey just in time.

"The damage that she had had in her esophagus was already quite severe from the battery being there," Dr. Kurbegov said, estimating the battery had probably been there about a week.

Dr. Kurbegov went on to explain the danger of one of these batteries becoming lodged in the esophagus. The esophagus flattens around the battery. Combined with moisture, the battery releases its electric charge.

"They become so potent in the charge they give to the esophagus that it erodes a hole through the esophagus and into the aorta, which is the largest blood vessel within the body, and children bleed to death," Dr. Kurbegov said.

Kellsey's doing better now, but spent three weeks in the hospital.

"This absolutely could have been much worse. It already was very severe," Dr. Kurbegov said.

When Renee got home, she searched for button cell batteries.

"I found 22, and I was like, oh my word," Renee said. "The majority of those were in Kellsey's room, in musical greeting cards."

Renee kept secure batteries, like in Kellsey's favorite book. The rest she threw away. Now she's passing on this warning to other parents.

"Keep them up. If they're not protected by a screwdriver back, throw it away. It's not worth risking your child," Renee said.

Dr. Kurbegov says Children's Hospital Colorado sees a few cases like these every month, and adds there have been cases of children dying in Colorado because of swallowing button cell batteries.



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