Batteries, sucking devices pose dangers to children

By | 2022-02-15T17:59:27-05:00 May 14th, 2012|0 Comments

Separate studies in the June issue of Pediatrics examine the dangers to children of batteries and of bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups.

In one study, researchers examined data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for children treated in the ED for an injury caused by a bottle, pacifier or sippy cup.

In the United States, 45,398 children younger than 3 were treated in the ED for such injuries between 1991 and 2010 — about 2,270 children per year. Most injuries (86%) occurred from falls while using the products, with 83% of falls resulting in lacerations or contusions to the mouth and face. The authors also found that two-thirds of injuries occurred among 1-year-olds, an age when children are unsteady on their feet and prone to falls.

“Having children sit down while drinking from baby bottles or sippy cups can help reduce the occurrences of these injuries,” Sarah Keim, PhD, MA, MS, the study’s coauthor and a principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a news release.

Given the high number of injuries associated with using bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups, the authors said children should not use these products beyond the intended ages, and parents should help their children transition to regular, lidless cups around age 1, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP also says parents should try to limit pacifier use starting at age 6 months because use thereafter may increase the risk of ear infections.

To download a PDF of the study, visit

Battery hazards

Batteries, especially coin-sized button batteries, can be found in most U.S. homes in electronic games, remote controls, watches and other common devices. Small, shiny and appealing to children, button batteries can cause serious injuries if ingested, researchers noted.

During the 20-year study period, 1990-2009, researchers found approximately 66,000 ED visits — 3,289 per year — associated with batteries by children younger than 18. Children sought emergency evaluation for batteries placed in the mouth, ear or nose, but most frequently for batteries that were swallowed, especially among children ages 5 and younger.

Of the cases in which the battery’s intended use was mentioned, only 29% involved batteries that were used for toys and games. The majority of cases involved batteries from products not intended for use by young children, such as watches (14%), calculators (12%), flashlights (9%) and remote controls (6%).

Button batteries accounted for 84% of all battery-related ingestions among children younger than 18, with the number of emergency visits for button battery ingestion doubling during the study period. Button batteries can lodge easily in the esophagus and lead to severe injuries and even death in less than two hours, the researchers noted.

“We live in a world designed by adults for the convenience of adults, and the safety of children is often not considered,” study author Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a news release. “Products with easily-accessible battery compartments are everywhere in our homes today.

“By making a few simple design changes and strengthening product manufacturing standards, including products not intended for use by young children, we could prevent many of the serious and sometimes fatal injuries that occur when children are able to easily access button batteries in common household products.”

With the number of battery-related ED visits increasing, study authors said prevention efforts should be increased and should focus on younger children. Child caregivers should make sure the battery compartments of all electronic items are taped shut, and that loose batteries are always stored out of children’s reach.

To view the study data and access the study via subscription or purchase, visit


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