BPSU study - Button battery ingestion, inhalation or insertion

BPSU surveillance of the unintentional ingestion, inhalation or insertion of button batteries in children requiring removal or attempted removal commenced in February 2021. This study will help inform services for the prevention and treatment of children who have accidentally swallowed or choked on button batteries. The study is being led by Dr Bob Basu, winner of the Sir Peter Tizard Bursary 2016-17.

Lead investigator

Dr Bob Basu
Bradford Royal Infirmary,
Duckworth Lane,
Bradford BD9 5LE
Email: leedsth-tr.buttonbattery@nhs.net

About the study


Button batteries are used to power many household devices, including toys and novelty greeting cards. They are small and round in shape, often the size of a small coin. If a button battery were to be accidentally swallowed or inhaled by a child and became lodged in the food or wind pipe it can cause very serious injury potentially leading to severe disability or even death. 

In the United Kingdom, there have been many case reports and also media attention surrounding the damage that button batteries can cause to children who have either accidentally swallowed (ingested) or breathed in (inhaled) them. The purpose of this study is to establish the number of children who require a hospital admission with medical intervention in the UK and Ireland after swallowing or inhaling a button battery accidentally, over the period of one calendar year. 

We will look at what happens to these children and see how many suffered serious injury and determine the nature of these injuries. 

It is felt that children aged 1-3 years are particularly at risk because of their increasing independence, mobility, and curiosity. The tendency for these young children to investigate their environment with their hands and mouths puts them at particular risk and in this age group they are at danger from aspiration from various foods such as grapes, raisins, nuts, seeds, as well as any object less than 1.5 cm in diameter. 

If a child has accidentally ingested or inhaled a button battery then their presentation to a healthcare professional may vary upon whether the event has been witnessed or not. Even if witnessed, there remains a lack of understanding in parents and medical personnel alike as to the emergency nature of such an event. 

In this study, we will describe the number of new cases incidence) needing hospital admission and intervention. We will look at contributing reasons (factors), and outcomes of children who require an admission to hospital after a button battery ingestion or inhalation within our defined population, and use the data to inform prevention campaigns, policy change, and clinical care.

Case definition

Any presentation of any child under the age of 16 years who has ingested or aspirated a button battery of any description requiring hospital admission including those that were admitted for only observation (excluding Scotland).

Reporting instructions

Please report any child under 16 years of age who has a suspected or confirmed ingestion or inhalation of a button battery who has gone on to require admission, including those that were admitted for only observation (excluding Scotland).


February 2021 to February 2022 (13 months of surveillance).


This study is funded through the Sir Peter Tizard Research Bursary.


This study has been approved by Yorkshire & The Humber - Bradford Leeds Research Ethics Committee (reference: 18/YH/0449); HRA Confidentiality Advisory Group (reference: 19/CAG/0019).

Privacy notice

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is the sponsor and data controller for this research study. To contact the Data Protection Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust can be contacted at leedsth-th.informationgovernance@nhs.net.

The study team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will use information from medical records for a medical research study. The lawful basis for collecting and using personal information in this study is article 6(1)(e) and article 9(2)(j) of the GDPR which allows us to process personal data when it is for scientific research in the public interest. We will collect information about the unintentional ingestion, inhalation or insertion of button batteries in children requiring removal or attempted removal from the doctors who are looking after them. Doctors will not provide identifying information like names and addresses, but they will provide personal information like sex, ethnic group and date of birth. The smallest amount of personal information will be used. We cannot withdraw or remove information from the study but personal information will be deleted or de-personalised when the study finishes. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will securely store this information for 20 years. 

If you want access to the information in your child’s NHS records, then you should contact your child’s NHS hospital/doctor. 

If you want to find out more about how personal information is used in the study, please contact leedsth-tr.buttonbattery@nhs.net.

If you wish to complain about the use of your personal information, then you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Helpline number: 0303 123 1113
Email: casework@ico.org.uk

Support group

Child Accident Prevention Trust