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Special Report: Pediatricians Warn Families of the Dangers of Button Batteries

These batteries, the size of buttons, are sending thousands of small children to the hospital every year.
My only child, I was so sad. I prayed.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Health experts are warning families about the latest public health danger for kids hiding in nearly every American home: Coin lithium button batteries.

These batteries, the size of buttons, are sending thousands of small children to the hospital every year.

Little Rock mom Felecia Coleman says her daughter Dallys kept having high fevers that wouldn't break in December 2011.

"They were saying she has croup, an ear infection," Coleman said.
 
A series of misdiagnoses sent Coleman on a desperate search to find what was making her usually vibrant daughter, ill.

On Christmas Day, she rushed then 18-month-old Dallys to the hospital.

Doctors whisked the toddler off to surgery and discovered and immediately removed what was left of a tiny battery.

"My only child, I was so sad. I prayed," Coleman said.

The round metal corroded, eating a hole through her esophagus, poisoning her little body.

"They are small they're shiny, and they are exactly the kind of thing a curious toddler who is exploring the world by crawling around is interested in," Dr. Mary Aitken said.

Aitken said this is the poison control problem for this generation and the nation's doctors are fighting to stop it, working with campaigns like this one at the batterycontrolled.com.

Nearly 3,000 kids swallow batteries in this country each year. Button battery ingestion is fatal in 12 percent of cases.

Aitken says the problem for most families is the symptoms are similar to other ordinary ailments.

It can appear your child has respiratory issues or a stomach ache.

Button batteries are built inside everyday devices, scattered around our homes. They're inside car key fabs, remote controls and are used to light up kids' toys

Aitken urges parents to inspect their homes.

"You can get down on your hands and knees and see the world from your young child's point of view and make sure there is nothing that is going to attract them," she said.

Parents are also advised to make sure battery cases are in tact and to tape them closed.

If parents suspect a child swallowed a battery, hurry to the emergency room.

"I think most pediatricians realize mom is usually right," Aitken said.

Felecia thanks God she was. Doctors don't know how long the battery was in Dallys' system.

While it caused quite a bit of damage, she's thankful they can count their family among the fortunate her daughter is alive.

"She's busy, she's back to herself ,she's in everything and hasn't missed a beat," Coleman said. "She's back to being Dallys."

Doctors say an ingested battery cause a chemical reaction and begin causing long term damage to a child in as little as two hours.
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