From 2010 to 2017, battery-related emergency department visits in pediatric patients saw a significant increase.
Emergency department (ED) visits resulting from battery-related incidents have risen in pediatric patients, according to a recent study.
Children are often at risk of ingesting foreign objects, with foreign body ingestion (FBI) being the fourth most common reason poison control centers were called for children aged 5 years and younger in 2019. Prior studies found batteries to be sources of serious injury and death in young children and the most common sources of FBIs.
In a recent study, investigators gathered data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) on battery-related ED visits from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2019. The data from NEISS was from a sample of about 100 hospitals showing the demographics, injury diagnoses, consumer products involved, affected body parts, and disposition of patients.
Cases of battery exposures were taken from the data and divided into 3 categories: cylindrical, button battery (BB), and unknown. Exposure was categorized into 4 routes: ingestion, mouth exposure, nasal insertion, and ear insertion. When the battery caused a chemical burn in the mouth, the exposure was categorized as mouth exposure. When the battery was swallowed intact, the exposure was categorized as ingestion.
There were 70,322 children who had an ED visit due to battery-related instances from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2019. This averaged at about 70,000 annually, and 9 and a half ED visits for every 100,000 children. Children aged less than 5 years old had the highest rate of ED visits, and more than half of those children were male. The greatest number of battery-related ED visits were seen in children aged 1-year-old.
Ingestions were the most common exposure route followed by nasal insertion, ear insertion, and mouth exposure. Ear insertion was most commonly seen in pediatric patients aged 6 to 17 years old. Patients in ingestion and noningestion groups were both often aged under 5 years old, and both groups saw a similar number of hospitalizations.
Hospitalizations increased significantly from 2010 to 2017, with cases of hospitalization due to ingestion and cases due to noningestion both rising. Cases began to drop from 2017 to 2019, though not by a significant amount. This nonsignificant decrease was also observed from 2013 to 2015.
Programs were implemented over time to reduce the number of hospitalizations from battery ingestion and insertion. The “Battery Controlled” campaign was implemented in 2011 to increase awareness about the dangers of ingesting BB batteries, and an update to ASTM F963–17 in 2017 required BB-powered toys made for children aged under 14 years include warning labels and instructions on the risks of BB batteries.
Throughout the study period, investigators saw a significant increase in battery related ED visits, but those numbers began to decrease from 2017 to 2019. Investigators stated that this could be the beginning of a downward trend.
Chandler MD, Ilyas K, Jatana KR, Smith GA, McKenzie LB, MacKay JM. Pediatric battery-related emergency department visits in the United States: 2010–2019. Pediatrics. 2022;150(3):e2022056709. doi:10.1542/peds.2022-056709