Many common objects such as remote controls for audiovisual devices, calculators, watches, cameras, hearing aids or even certain electric toys, contain button batteries: these are small round flat batteries. Omnipresent in our daily lives, they represent a risk for children, especially the youngest, likely to ingest them. The danger concerns their toxicity, mainly linked to the production of very alkaline hydroxide ions which can cause very deep chemical burns. In case of ingestion, it is therefore essential to react very quickly, as reminded the High Authority for Health (HAS) at a dedicated information point.
The agency indeed observes “an increase cases of battery ingestion large diameter” although this problem is not recent and public health actions have already been carried out to raise awareness among parents. And to date, “no recommendation precisely defines the care of children with ayant ingested a button battery. “, she adds. This implies that health professionals alone assess the situation of each child, which can lead to a heterogeneity of practices in the field. This is why the Ministry of Health asked HAS and the Society of Clinical Toxicology (STC) recommendations for good practice on this subject.
Every minute counts, an immediate call to the poison control center
This work has a triple objective: to offer optimized care and child supervision having ingested one or more button batteries, standardize treatment and increase public awareness of the serious risk posed by these batteries. This is why the recommendations recall key messages for the general public. In the first place that every minute counts : do not waste time in front of the ingestion of a button battery, whether proven or supposed. It is then necessary to leave the child on an empty stomach without trying to make him vomit and to call 15 or a poison control center, “in order to trigger without delay the evaluation and the treatment appropriate load of the child. »
Once the child arrives at the emergency room or in the office, a support without downtime must engage. And this regardless of the healthcare professionals involved: primary care healthcare professionals, SAMU, poison control centres, emergency doctors, endoscopists, anesthesiologists and surgeons. The HAS considers that “their good coordination is essential », and provides them with several tools to help them as best they can, namely sheets summarizing all of the care, a tool sheet for first aid professionals and a model letter to parents. Two videos from the STC also explain the mechanism of toxic action button batteries.
Better toy safety, another essential action lever
The two organizations emphasize in particular that the realization a chest X-ray is the reference examination to confirm the ingestion of a battery and to determine its location. In the event of a battery blocked in the esophagus, a life-threatening emergency, an upper digestive endoscopy must be carried out without delay since the risk of serious complications, including an esophageal burn severe, is increased beyond 2 h. “If the pile is in the stomach, the management must be adapted to each situation, and digestive endoscopy is sometimes necessary. “, notes the HAS. In addition to communication actions aimed at the general public, it is aimed more broadly to public authorities.
Its recommendations for their destination concern the importance of working with the manufacturers responsible for marketing button batteries, including at European level. Because it is a question of promoting the manufacture of button batteries with a diameter of less than 15 mm, but also of securing the devices operating with these batteries. The Repression of Fraud emphasizes in this regard that over the period 2019/2020, 10 dangerous toys linked to the ingestion of button batteries have been subject to withdrawal or recall measures. It estimates that each year in France, more than 1,200 emergency room visits are linked to the ingestion of button batteries. If these are accidents by ingestion in nine out of ten cases, the risk also concerns their introduction into an orifice, an inhalation or a splash of liquid.