So what can parents do to prevent these potentially fatal ingestions? The first step is to keep the batteries out of children's reach.
Lithium batteries can be found in laptops, iPads, remote car keys, calculators, cameras, bathroom scales, digital thermometers, talking books, video games and even musical greeting cards. Litovitz recommended that parents "be vigilant and look at every product at home to see if it has a battery compartment that can be opened by the child and [if so, make sure it is] secured with heavy tape. If not, it needs to be treated like a medication -- up high, out of reach and locked up."
If parents suspect their child has ingested a battery -- or any other object, for that matter -- they should take them to the nearest emergency department immediately. The majority of ingestions are unwitnessed, according to the new study, and the signs of ingestion are not specific to the item ingested.
Some other tips for parents include:
If you see your child drooling, having difficulty swallowing, or vomiting, take him or her to the emergency department to get evaluated.
Do not second guess whether anything was ingested. Leave that to the emergency room doctors to determine. Time is critical with battery ingestions.
Both Jacobs and Litovitz emphasize that if children are not taken to the operating room within two hours, the outcomes could be fatal.
Umar was lucky. The hole in his esophagus spontaneously healed and today he is back to eating his favorite chocolate chip cookies and drinking his orange juice. He also started preschool in February and his mother, Sonia Khan, said he is doing well.
"Back to his active and playful self!" she said.