Swallowed button batteries add to safety concerns about 'fidget spinners'

January 26, 2018, Wolters Kluwer Health

A report of two young children with burns of the esophagus caused by swallowed button batteries from "fidget spinners" highlights a risk of severe injuries involving these popular toys, according to a series of reports in the January/February Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (JPGN).

The reports add to previous safety hazards from spinners, especially in the hands of toddlers and preschoolers. In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Athos Bousvaros and Paul Rufo of Boston Children's Hospital write, "Having an unlabeled button battery in a toy or product that children can handle and break poses a potential danger to children."

Swallowed Batteries from Fad Toy Lead to Internal Burns

Fidget spinners are a simple but popular toy, consisting of a plastic piece that easily spins around a central bearing. Fidget spinners are sometimes marketed as anxiety-reducing devices for people with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, although those claims have not been researched.

Amid last year's fad, reports of swallowing fidget spinner parts have appeared. Some but not all fidget spinners have batteries, enabling lights to shine when the toy is spinning. One of the new articles reports on two children—a three-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl—with severe esophageal injuries caused by swallowed lithium batteries from fidget spinners. The lead authors were Dr. Racha Khalaf of Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, and Dr. Yoseph Gurevich of Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y.

One child swallowed the central disk cap of a broken fidget spinner, including a small button battery, while the other swallowed a battery released from a damaged disk. When batteries come into contact with body fluids, they can cause severe burns in a short time. In the hospital, both children were found to have deep burns of the esophagus.

One child required emergency endoscopy to remove an impacted piece of the broken toy, including a one-inch button battery. He remained in the hospital for nearly three weeks due to concern about a possible fistula (connection) between the esophagus and aorta—a life-threatening complication that may develop days to weeks after the battery is removed. (The National Capital Poison Center has more information on the devastating injuries caused by swallowed batteries.)

Two other JPGN reports describe injuries in children who swallowed broken fidget spinner parts, but not batteries. In both cases, the objects were removed from the esophagus by emergency endoscopy, following NASPGHAN guidelines for swallowed objects (PDF link). Swallowed fidget spinner discs "should be presumed to contain a button battery until proven otherwise," Drs. Gurevich and Khalaf and colleagues note.

Button batteries are present in a wide range of household devices, including cameras, watches, and remote controls. While batteries in children's toys are usually well-secured, this may not be the case in devices not specifically designed for .

Drs. Bousvaros and Rufo encourage pediatricians to swallowed to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has already recognized this along with other potential hazards of fidget spinners. The editorial authors note that NASPGHAN's advocacy efforts were instrumental in prompting regulatory action in response to swallowing hazards posed by high-powered magnets a few years ago.

Explore further: Fidget spinners named among possible summer hazards for kids

More information: Racha T. Khalaf et al. Button Battery Powered Fidget Spinners, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2018). DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001892

Neelesh Ajit Tipnis et al. Fidget Spinner Ingestion, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2018). DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001893

Athos Bousvaros et al. Commentary, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2018). DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001891

Related Stories

Fidget spinners named among possible summer hazards for kids

June 21, 2017
Thinking of getting your kid the wildly popular fidget spinner? A consumer watchdog group is warning parents to think again.

Fidget spinners are the latest toy craze, but the medical benefits are unclear

June 21, 2017
Last week, German customs agents in Frankfurt Airport seized 35 metric tons of an imported plastic device, destroying the shipment for public safety purposes before it could infiltrate the country's marketplaces.

Flameless candle batteries pose risk to kids

January 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—Tiny button batteries that light up flameless "tea candles" pose a significant risk to children when swallowed, the National Capital Poison Center warns.

Are all those 'Fidget spinners' really helping kids?

May 25, 2017
(HealthDay)—Fidget spinners may be the latest must-have kids' toy, but claims that the gizmos help students pay attention aren't backed by science, experts say.

Swallowing 'button batteries' can lead to serious injuries or death

September 30, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Small, coin-sized batteries can cause serious health problems and can even lead to death if swallowed by children, and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt wants to educate parents ...

Recommended for you

Diagnosing and treating disorders of early sex development

June 19, 2018
Diagnosing, advising on and treating disorders of early sex development represent a huge medical challenge, both for those affected and for treating physicians. In contrast to the earlier view, DSD (Difference of Sex Development) ...

Use of alternative medicines has doubled among kids, especially teens

June 18, 2018
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that since 2003, the use of alternative medicines, such as herbal products and nutraceuticals, among children has doubled. The University of Illinois at Chicago researchers who ...

Virtual reality headsets significantly reduce children's fear of needles

June 18, 2018
The scenario is all too familiar for the majority of parents. The crying, the screaming and the tantrums as they try to coax their children into the doctor's office for routine immunizations. After all, who can't relate to ...

Both quantity and quality of sleep affect cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents

June 15, 2018
A study from a research team led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) physician finds that both the quantity and quality of sleep—the amount of time spent sleeping and the percentage of sleep that is undisturbed—in ...

Ingesting honey after swallowing button battery reduces injury and improves outcomes

June 11, 2018
A team of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists has demonstrated that eating honey after swallowing a button battery has the potential to reduce serious injuries in small children. Based on findings in laboratory animals, ...

Bifidobacteria supplement colonizes gut of breastfed infants

June 10, 2018
Supplementing breastfed infants with activated Bifidobacterium infantis (B. infantis) bacteria had a positive impact on babies' gut microbes for up to a year, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.