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Swallowing alert on camera batteries

Parents have been warned of the danger of children swallowing camera batteries.

Experts said severe injury to the oesophagus, the tube connecting the throat to the stomach, can occur if a child swallows one of the pill-like disc batteries.

When the battery is lodged in the oesophagus, chemicals can leak out, causing an electrical discharge that burns and destroys tissue.

Researchers in the US studied 10 children with an average age of 3.2 who had swallowed disc batteries.

Six children were seen within six hours of swallowing a battery, one after 10 hours and one after 12 hours.

Seven had suffered significant damage to the oesophagus. Five sustained damaged muscle lining and two experienced perforation. One child had a serious injury in the form of a tracheoesophageal fistula, an opening between the windpipe and oesophagus.

The research was reported in the journal Archives Of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Authors Dr Stanley Kimball, from Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, Ohio, said: "Severe injury can occur rapidly following battery ingestion. Emergency endoscopic retrieval is required in these situations."

The American Association of Poison Control Centres reported 2,063 cases of disc battery ingestion in 1998. Over the following eight years, this figure increased by 80pc.