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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
Parents should be vigilant this Christmas season when their children play with toys and other items powered by button batteries, the Australian Medical Association (WA) has warned.
“Thousands of toys powered by small batteries will be given to children in WA over the next few days. Unfortunately, some of these batteries will be swallowed by young children,” AMA (WA) Vice President Dr Michael Gannon said.
Australian emergency departments see an average of four children admitted with battery-related issues ever week, with children under the age of five seeing the most admissions.
“As a parent with young children I know how common small batteries are in the toys we buy our kids. Many of them are small and easily swallowed. We need to be vigilant over this Christmas period to ensure that our children are safe when doing something as innocent as playing with their toys.”
“Many of these will pass through the digestive system of children but some, unfortunately, will get lodged, react with the saliva and cause corrosion.
“This corrosion can cause horrific internal damage in as little as two hours, and sometimes irreparable damage and even death is the result of a carelessly placed toy.
The road to recovery for these types of injuries is long and often requires breathing and feeding tubes and multiple surgeries, to repair the damage,” Dr Gannon said.
“These days of course it is not just in toys that button batteries are found. Even some Christmas cards have tiny batteries that are attractive to small eyes and accessible to small hands,” he said.
“It is an unfortunate reality that some children this Christmas will have to be taken to hospital emergency departments as a consequence of something that should not just be harmless but also should be fun – playing with a Christmas toy or other gift,” Dr Gannon said.
The AMA has called for all batteries to be protected by child-proof casing, and for parents to remain vigilant over the festive season.
“The last thing anyone needs over Christmas is a tragic, yet completely preventable accident. “We urge parents to make sure all battery-operated appliances are inaccessible to inquisitive children, and to remain safe over the festive season,” Dr Gannon said.