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"We're continuing to see these problematic cases" at least once a month, said Dr. Albert Park, a report co-author and a head and neck specialist at the hospital. "This is a very much under-appreciated problem, and the severity of these conditions is under-appreciated."
Every year more than 3,500 people swallow button or disc-shaped batteries, according to Litovitz's center, an independent group affiliated with George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Lithium cell batteries at least 20 millimeters in diameter, a little bigger than a penny, are the riskiest. They've become commonplace because they're lighter and more powerful than older-model batteries, Litovitz said. They're also more likely than older models to lodge in young children's throats and cause damage, and have been implicated in at least six of 10 deaths since 2003 reported to the center.
Of 80 severe cases reported to the center since the 1970s, 42 occurred since 2004. Ten of 14 deaths reported since 1977 occurred within the past six years, Litovitz said. She said many cases likely go unreported. Her center operates a 24-hour hot line offering advice when battery ingestion is suspected.
National Capital Poison Center: http://www.poison.org/battery/
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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