LEADING doctors have warned parents this Christmas amid an increase in the number of children hospitalized for ingesting small objects.
The number of young people admitted to hospital after swallowing small objects has doubled in the past 10 years to 228, according to the NHS.
In previous years, surgeons had to perform life-saving operations to remove coin batteries, magnetic balls and Christmas crackers.
According to doctors, this season they are especially worried about “small pill batteries.”
They form part of several “loud Christmas gifts” and also power holiday lights, TV remotes, and even holiday greeting cards.
Experts have warned that small batteries can burn a young man’s throat.
They can also burn through the esophagus or other internal body parts in a very short period of time if swallowed, causing permanent damage, the NHS said.
NHS England’s chief pediatrician, Professor Simon Kenny, said: “The last thing anyone wants is to spend Christmas in a hospital where their child is undergoing life-saving surgery.
“But, unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in the number of children in hospitals due to the fact that they swallowed an object – twice as many as 10 years ago.
“The consequences can be devastating.”
NHS data shows that last year 228 children under 14 were hospitalized after swallowing a small object.
This is double the 115 cases in 2012.
Surgeons often have to operate to remove metal from the throat or stomach, and the operation can take hours.
Earlier this year, little Hughie McMahon’s parents revealed how their young son died after swallowing a coin cell battery.
Mom Kristin McDonald, 32, and dad Hugh McMahon, 29, cradled him when he passed away.
The precious Huey died after a battery he swallowed turned his blood ‘acidic’ and burned a fivepence hole in his heart, his grieving parents said.
In 2021, two-year-old Harper-Lee Farnthorp began vomiting blood and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, but unfortunately she passed away after swallowing a coin cell battery.
The toddler was taken to the emergency room, where doctors injected nine units of blood after she lost half the blood in her small body.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust estimates that one or two children die every year from swallowing batteries.
CEO Katrina Phillips said: “Quickly check gifts as soon as they are unwrapped.
“Look for gifts with easily accessible or spare button batteries and keep them out of your child’s reach. If the toy is broken and the battery is dead, pick it up as soon as possible.
“And if you think your child has swallowed a coin cell battery, don’t delay – get him to the emergency room immediately.”
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