Health and Wellness

The surprising treatment hospital specialists prescribed a four-year-old who’d swallowed a battery: eating honey

Swallow a battery? Medics may advise you to eat like Winnie the Pooh.

Such was the case for little Isabella Telford who was given an entire pot of honey to consume by NHS medics after ingesting one from a toy.

Swallowed batteries are a serious medical emergency as the devices that power innumerable household devices and toys can burn a hole through the stomach.

An estimated two children are killed in UK each year due to ingested batteries. 

But common household honey can drastically cut the risk to health as the sweet substance acts as an effective barrier to the battery’s corrosive qualities. 

Isabella, 4, was enjoying a family day out buy needed to be rushed to hospital after swallowing a battery that allegedly fell out of a children’s toy

Isabella's mother Adele Telford (left), 31, said the moment she learnt Isabella had swallowed the battery she and her wife Emily (right) had to rush her to hospital. The couple are pictured here with Isabella and one of their other children eight-month-old Everley

Isabella’s mother Adele Telford (left), 31, said the moment she learnt Isabella had swallowed the battery she and her wife Emily (right) had to rush her to hospital. The couple are pictured here with Isabella and one of their other children eight-month-old Everley

The light up ring that contained the battery that Isabella swallowed and needed to be rushed to hospital as a result

The light up ring that contained the battery that Isabella swallowed and needed to be rushed to hospital as a result

Four-year-old Isabella’s ordeal started after she bought a small light up ring while enjoying a family day out at Haven’s Wild Duck Holiday Park near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk last month.

However, after the family, from the town of Diss, returned home Isabella swallowed the battery prompting the family to rush her to hospital. 

Once there, medics from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital gave her an entire pot of honey to eat in a bid to stop the battery causing any damage. 

When exposed to saliva, batteries create a powerful alkaline solution that essentially dissolves internal tissue, which can cause potentially fatal damage. 

But honey has been proven to counter this effect, in part by creating a viscous barrier physically shielding tissue from the battery as also helping neutralise the harsh alkaline solution.

Fortunately, the honey worked in Isabella’s case and while she was carefully monitored in hospital she managed to pass the battery without incident the next day.

Isabella’s mother Adele Telford, 31, recalled the moment she learnt Isabella had swallowed the battery. 

‘[When Isabella swallowed the battery], the kids were playing in the living room while we were just doing things around the house,’ she said. 

‘I was in the kitchen and Isabella called out and said she had swallowed something.

‘I think she could tell by our face that she had done something wrong. It took a little while of coaxing to find out what she had swallowed.’

‘She had tucked her ring away in her little toy kitchen and when she pulled it out it was all in bits.

‘The top was out and two of the batteries were just rolling around.

‘She said she had swallowed one of the batteries as there were only two and there should have been three.’

Mrs Telford said she had heard about the dangers surrounding batteries and children and knew she and her wife Emily needed to get Isabella urgent medical help. 

‘At the moment, I just looked at my wife and said she needed to go to A&E straight away as I had read horrors about button batteries.’ she said. 

‘I was really concerned that the battery may have burned her throat or tummy.

‘They took her to the children’s unit and told her she had to be fed 10ml of honey every 10 minutes until the doctor told her to stop.

‘They set her up on a little bed and gave Emily a big pot of honey and a syringe and she fed her honey for two hours.’

Mrs Telford claimed the lid containing the light-up ring’s batteries were only held together with ‘hot glue’ that ‘disintegrated when one of the other batteries had started leaking in the housing’.

This led to them coming loose which was when Isabella swallowed them.

Medics medics from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital gave her an entire pot of honey to eat in a to stop the battery causing any damage

Medics medics from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital gave her an entire pot of honey to eat in a to stop the battery causing any damage

Government guidance on batteries from the Office of Product Safety and Standards states manufactures ‘should ensure that the product has a battery compartment that can be securely fastened, and cannot open inadvertently, to prevent a child from removing the batteries’.

Responding to Mrs Telford’s claims Haven said the product complies with all EU health and safety regulations but they have alerted the manufacturer and have temporarily removed the product from sale while the incident is investigated.

The mother-of-three has also issued a warning to other parents about the dangers of small batteries around young children.  

‘We were lucky but another family might not be as lucky as us,’ she said. 

‘If you child does swallow a button battery, you need to start giving them honey as soon as possible and get them to the nearest hospital as soon as possible too,’ she said. 

The NHS urges Brits to get children who have swallowed a battery to A&E as fast as possible.  

During this time, you can feed them honey, roughly two teaspoons worth every 10 minutes.

However, this is only the case for children over 12 months as honey can pose a health hazard to very young children. 

NHS advice also states not to give the child anything else to eat or drink or try to make them vomit. 

Additionally, parents are advised to keep an eye out for symptoms such as vomiting, chest or throat pain, drooling, and difficulty swallowing as children can often swallow batteries without parents noticing.

If unsure, parents can contact NHS 111 for advice. 

Once in hospital medical scans and assessments can determine next steps.

If the battery becomes stuck, the child may need an operation to remove it. 

However, if it reaches the stomach most of the danger has passed and a child can typically be observed at home to see if the battery can be passed naturally.

Studies have also estimated around one in every 2,500 children who swallow a battery die due to the injuries suffered. 

The danger posed by battery ingestion varies with age, with younger children more vulnerable to serious injuries.  

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  • Source of information and images “dailymail

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