Study: Batteries Increasingly to Blame for Kids' ER Visits
More kids are landing in the emergency room after swallowing coin-sized button batteries. There were nearly 66,000 battery-related hospital visits by children under 18 between 1990 and 2009, and the annual number more than doubled, jumping from 2,591 to 5,525. That's according to a new study published today in Pediatrics. The situation is worst for children 5 and under, who accounted for more than 75 percent of all battery-related hospital visits. Tiny, round button batteries are found in many watches, cameras, television remotes, and other small devices; they can cause severe injury in less than two hours if lodged in the esophagus. "Often there are no symptoms early on, so it's important that an X-ray be taken as soon as possible if ingestion is suspected," researcher Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told USA Today. "Parents need to make sure their children cannot get access, by taping battery compartments shut and keeping loose batteries out of children's reach."
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Home Safety: Hidden Risks to Children
The child left his mother's sight for mere minutes. Yet that was enough time for 21-month-old Ollie Hebb to fall into the top-loading washing machine and become submerged in a full tub. The Utah boy died a day later, after suffering severe brain damage.
Between 2005 and 2009, two children under the age of five died as a result of laundry room accidents, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Washing machine-related injuries are more common than deaths, says Scott Wolfson, director of public affairs for the CPSC. Aside from drowning, children may suffer burns from hot water in the machine, or injuries to their limbs if they come into contact with a rapidly spinning basin. "Kids are curious. We have to be very vigilant about our children, and really live in the moment and be present when we're supervising them," says Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, which aims to prevent unintentional childhood injuries.
Washing machines aren't the only hidden dangers lurking in homes. Here are 5 others to be cautious of:
Standing water. Drowning concerns extend beyond swimming pools. Any type of standing water—even if it's just an inch deep—can harm a child. "The bathroom is the riskiest room in the house," says Garry Gardner, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' council on injury, violence, and poison prevention. "Children lean over and look into the toilet or bathtub, they trip, and they fall in." Keep young children out of the bathroom unless they're being closely watched, and teach others in the home to keep the bathroom door closed at all times. Ice chests with melted ice, water buckets or pails, and whirlpools also pose risks. Empty all buckets, pails, and bathtubs completely after use; never leave them filled or unattended. And adjust the water heater thermostat so that the hottest temperature at the faucet is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to help avoid burns. [Read more: Home Safety: Hidden Risks to Children]
Is Veganism Appropriate for Kids?
The cover of Vegan is Love is deceptively cheerful: There are smiling elephants, zebras, pandas, and even pink lambs. But inside Ruby Roth's new children's book, you'll find wounded animals. Rabbits trapped in laboratories. The slaughter house and the circus. Blood. "Killing an animal is not brave—it is cowardly. What we need today are people with the courage to protect animals, not hurt them," writes Roth, a former elementary school art teacher and self-appointed animal rights activist. "We can choose to live without using animals for food, clothing, or fun. As vegans, we live this way because it is best for our health, for animals, and for the earth … and that is love."
Vegan is Love (North Atlantic Books, $16.95) is designed to inspire children to adopt a vegan lifestyle at an early age. It's aimed at kids ages 6 and up, and includes lessons on animal cruelty and the environmental consequences of eating meat, such as pollution emitted by animal farms. Critics argue that it focuses too heavily on violence against animals. And some say it's unwise to graphically promote a restrictive vegan diet to young, impressionable readers.
The book arrives as vegan diets are making a media splash. Actress Alicia Silverstone, author of the vegan-centric The Kind Diet, is raising her 2-year-old son, Bear, as a strict vegan. And last year, an 11-month-old French baby on a vegan diet died after suffering complications from vitamin deficiencies; his parents were sentenced to five years in jail. [Read more: Is Veganism Appropriate for Kids?]
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Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.