Lethal button battery survey to save lives

June 12, 2023 9:41 am in by
Lead investigator Dr Anna Girardi

A national survey aims to better protect children from swallowing potentially lethal button batteries.

To coincide with Australia’s first International Button Battery Awareness Day (June 12), the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) has launched a new study that involves a national survey of parents and caregivers and button battery safety.

Unlike previous research which has focused on medical management of button battery injuries, the study will examine parents’ knowledge about the potential dangers of button batteries and safety practices.

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Four-year-old Sunshine Coast girl Summer Steer became the first person in Australia to die from a button battery after she swallowed one in 2013.

“Every day, about three Australian children are taken to emergency departments suspected of having swallowed a button battery,” lead investigator Dr Anna Girardi said.

“Parents play a vital role in preventing button battery injuries as they most often occur in the home.

“We urge parents of children under five to respond to our survey and tell us how much they know about the injury prevention of button batteries,” Dr Girardi said.

“We hope to use the findings to ensure the right education about button battery safety and prevention strategies are targeted to prevent injuries and save lives,” she said.

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Small, shiny and appealing to young children, button batteries can be found in many common household devices such as watches, hearing aids, calculators, remote controls and toys.

Last year, the Australian Government introduced new mandatory standards for all products containing button batteries.

Dr Girardi said more needs to be done to protect children from the dangers these batteries pose.

She said many products slipping through the cracks, especially ones purchased online or overseas.

When stuck in the oesophagus, the body’s moist tissues allow the battery to create to an electrical circuit, causing serious chemical burns within a very short period.

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The survey will ask parents about their knowledge of button battery safety, current strategies to prevent button battery injuries in the home, and more general home safety practices.

For more information about the study and link to the survey can be found in the link below.


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