CareFlight doctor issues warning on ‘button batteries’

PARENTS are being warned of the dangers of button batteries after RACQ CareFlight Rescue airlifted a Coolum Beach toddler who reportedly swallowed one on Monday.

The two-year-old was said to have swallowed a calculator battery and was taken to Nambour General Hospital. Shortly after 1pm, he was airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital by RACQ CareFlight Rescue to undergo further treatment.

It is the second time in less than a year CareFlight has airlifted a child suspected to have swallowed a battery and has prompted a warning on the dangers of the tiny toxic objects.


“Button batteries can lodge in the oesophagus of infants and toddlers and cause serious injury or even death if they go undetected,” CareFlight’s Chief Medical Officer Doctor Allan MacKillop said.

A four year old Sunshine Coast girl died in July last year after swallowing one of the small batteries which are used in toys, games and many household items such as torches, car keys, TV remotes, watches and calculators.

“If they become stuck in the oesophagus they can immediately begin to burn, doing serious damage,” Dr MacKillop said.

“Even if you only suspect the child has swallowed the battery, you should immediately take them to your GP or a hospital emergency ward. Early diagnosis is the key,” he said.

Symptoms include: gagging, vomiting or spitting, abdominal pain and persistent drooling.

Each week four children are taken to emergency departments across Australia after swallowing the tiny batteries.

With Christmas on the horizon, parents are being urged to be cautious, keeping batteries out of reach and ensuring the backs of toys and other household items that use any type of battery are securely taped up from prying little fingers.

The elderly are also urged not to store the batteries in pill containers as the small objects can easily be mistaken for medication.