Lithium batteries in gifts pose health threat

Health professionals say coin lithium batteries used inside some decorations and electronic gifts pose a threat to young children, especially during the holidays.

So far this year, the Minnesota Poison Control Center has recorded 41 incidents where coin batteries were swallowed.

Nurse Julie Philbrook is a trauma prevention specialist at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. She says many common household items are exempt from the battery safety standards that apply to most toys, but that doesn't mean that young children ignore these items.

"They love remotes. They love calculators is another one that little kids like to play with. And there again, if the battery door is not secured, easily it can come out," she said. "Tea lights are just all over now and I'm just shocked because there's not the same standards for some of these household things like that as there are for toys."

If swallowed by young children, coin lithium batteries can become lodged in their throats and can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours, Philbrook said.