Queensland child dies after swallowing battery

Safety alert ... Big danger in one little battery.
Safety alert ... Big danger in one little battery. 

A girl has died from stomach bleeding after swallowing a lithium button-sized battery.

The four-year-old from Tewantin, Queensland, swallowed the battery and showed symptoms of stomach bleeding Sunday morning. She was taken to Noosa Hospital in a serious condition around 8.15am, and was then flown by medical helicopter to the Royal Brisbane Hospital in a critical condition that afternoon.

She later died from her injuries.

Noosa Hospital CEO Oliver Steele it was an "extremely distressing case".

"The hospital understands the patient died before she could receive treatment for a rare complication in Brisbane," he said.

"Appropriate procedure was correctly followed."

A common danger

Kidsafe Queensland estimates four children a week in Australia are taken to emergency departments with button battery-related injuries.

Button batteries are found in remote controls and other household electronic devices.


The Kidsafe website says that the batteries are a severe and little known risk to children.

The Battery Controlled safety campaign was launched by Kidsafe and the ACCC last year to remind parents to keep batteries out of reach of children and spread the word about the dangers.

Susan Teerds, of Kidsafe Queensland, told ABC radio the button-shaped batteries are found in many common household items.

"When a child swallows a battery it often gets caught in the oesophagus, around the voice box," Ms Teerds said.

"Once it's been lodged, within an hour it will start to burn a hole."

The hazards of tiny batteries

If a child swallows a button battery, the battery can get stuck in the child's throat and burn through the oesophagus in as little as two hours. Repair can require feeding and breathing tubes and multiple surgeries.

Children under five years old are at the greatest risk.

According to the international Safe Kids website, "the number of serious injuries or deaths as a result of button batteries has increased ninefold in the last decade".

Tips to keep kids safe

  • Keep coin lithium battery-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children.
  • Items with the batteries include remote controls, singing greeting cards, digital scales, watches, hearing aids, thermometers, children's toys, calculators, key fobs, battery-powered 'candle' lights, flashing holiday jewellery and decorations.
  • Keep loose batteries locked away, or place a piece of duct tape over the controller to prevent small children from accessing the battery.
  • Share this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family members and sitters. It only takes a minute and it could save a life.
  • If you suspect your child has ingested a battery, go to the hospital immediately. Don't induce vomiting or have your child eat or drink anything until assessed by a medical professional.

Watch a video from The Battery Controlled safety campaign below. It follows the story of Hunter, a one-year-old who also swallowed a battery.