Toddler shoves battery up nose

03:15, May 24 2012
Harrison Taylor
NOSE DIVE: Harrison Taylor, 20 months, holds the button battery that had to be surgically removed after he pushed it up his nose.

An Invercargill mother is warning parents of the dangers of light-up magnetic badges after her toddler shoved a seven-millimetre button battery up his nose.

The battery began to corrode.

The high-powered battery in the badge – also used in hearing aids, watches, toys, singing greeting cards and flashing jewellery – is being looked at by the Consumer Affairs Ministry because of potential risks for children who swallow or insert the batteries.

Harrison Taylor
DANGER: The button battery removed from Harrison Taylor's nose by an ear, nose, and throat specialist in Dunedin.

Lisa Taylor said she was making lunch on Monday when Harrison, 20 months, came out of the living room, pulled her finger towards his nose and said "up".

"As soon as I looked up his nose, I knew what it was."

A light-up magnetic badge of a motorbike, bought at Toyworld in Dunedin the month before, had been pulled apart to remove the battery, Mrs Taylor said. She put the badge back in the toy box in the living room, unaware the badge had a second battery, which Harrison somehow retrieved.


She tried to dislodge the battery herself by getting him to blow his nose, but the task was impossible.

Mrs Taylor took Harrison to the emergency department at Southland Hospital but was told there was not an ear, nose and throat specialist on site that day to remove the battery, which had gone further up the nasal passage.

She was asked if she could drive Harrison to Dunedin Hospital and was told she would be reimbursed for petrol.

At Dunedin Hospital, she was seen immediately by the specialist, who advised surgery because Harrison was so agitated.

While staff at Southland Hospital had told her the battery needed to be removed "as quickly as possible" it was the specialist at Dunedin who told her button batteries could begin leaking acid after six hours.

Harrison had gone into surgery right at the six-hour mark, she said.

Some residue from the battery had been found in his nostril.

According to the Consumer Affairs website, when the batteries come in contact with bodily fluids an electric current is created, which can burn the nasal and throat passage, if swallowed.

Ministry spokesman Alastair Stewart said there were four known cases of children inserting button batteries up their nose.

Yesterday, Toyworld buyers assistant Magenta Boyd said the battery inside the badge was quite common.

"Toyworld [is] very sorry that this has happened and would like to send our sympathies to the family and child. We would encourage customers to utilise our expert staff to help them select items appropriate for a child of that age."

Mrs Taylor said Harrison is booked in for a follow-up appointment at Southland Hospital next week.

The Southern District Health Board said in a statement yesterday that there was one fulltime ear, nose and throat specialist at Southland Hospital. When the specialist was on days off, patients were referred to Dunedin.

Southland chief medical officer David Tulloch was unavailable for comment.


In the past seven years, several deaths have been reported in the United States after children swallowed button batteries. The Consumer Affairs Ministry is collaborating with the US, Australia, Japan and Korea to assess the risks of the batteries.

The ministry advises parents to be careful about how they use and store button batteries. Source: Consumer Affairs Ministry

The Southland Times