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Be Aware of What Little Children Will Swallow

Posted Jul 10 2010 2:37pm

Most pediatricians and family doctors are aware of what little children will swallow. However, when parents have one or more children, it is often hard to keep everything away from little hands and mouths. I have had children in my pediatric practice who have swallowed safety pins, buttons, and even a razor blade. This is, of course, in addition to poisonous substances and poisonous plants. One little child wandered into a neighbor's yard and saw a coke botle with some liquid in it. He swallowed some not realizing it was a substance similar to drano. We had to send  him to Boston Children's Hospital where his feeding tube or esophagus was replaced. Another child wandered into the kitchen of his nursery school and found dishwasher soap under the sink. He  was hungry and ingested a little of the soap and had burning of his esophagus.

Another little boy ingested liquid in the glasses left over from a party that he found early one Sunday morning. He had a bad effect and quite a hang-over! Another child ate several stubs of cigarettes and had severe nicotine poisoning. Now there is a new worry.

In an excellant article by Tara Parker-Pope in the 6/1/10 New York Times, she describes the terrible tragedy of a 13 month-old child who swallowed a button battery. The battery burned through his esophagus and he ultimately died. The article states that there are 3,500 cases of button battery ingestions in the U.S. each year. The worst batteries are those that begin with the number 20 and the "batteries numbered 2032, 2025, and 2016 are responsible for more than 90 percent of serious injuries."

The reporter also states that these batteries begin to cause damage within two hours of ingestion. Now that there are small button batteries in so many things, parental and child-care vigilance is even more necessary.

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