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Ohio doctor says honey helped 3-year-old who swallowed a small battery

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 15:41:05-04

BARBERTON, Ohio  — A Northeast Ohio mom is sharing her family’s big scare in hopes it can help someone else in the same situation.

Katie Jacobsen’s birthday, last Thursday, was one she’ll never forget. It started off like a typical day. The mom of eight ordered dinner from Cracker Barrel to eat at their Barberton home.

“They always put little packets of butter and honey just to make sure you have everything you want with your meal,” she said. “We ate, and we were just kind of sitting in the living room I was sitting with my husband, and our kids were sitting on the other side playing with toys.”

She said her 3-year-old daughter Maggie came over and told her she swallowed something shiny. Jacobsen said she didn’t panic immediately, but she needed to figure out what it could’ve been that she swallowed.

“I saw the Barbie doll that she'd been playing with, and she'd been playing with my 8-year-old son. He was they were kind of sitting around the coffee table together, and his eyes got real big, and he looked at me, and he said, ‘I just took one of those out.’” she said.

She said she noticed that the Barbie doll that Maggie was playing with had a damaged battery compartment that had opened.

“She told me she was making them cupcakes, so that’s just the mind of a 3-year-old pretending these little batteries were cupcakes,” she said.

Jacobsen said she knew it was bad and they would have to take Maggie to Akron Children’s Hospital.

“Meanwhile, my 16-year-old is just kind of sitting there,” she said. “I’m walking around getting ready, and I can hear her in the background saying, ‘Mom, it says we have to give her honey.' My husband said, ‘Oh, we’ve got packets of honey on the table right here.’”

The Cracker Barrel they ordered that night came with biscuits and many packets of honey.

“I sat in the back with her, she was in her car seat, and I just kept giving her the honey. We took the extra packets with us, and I just kept giving her more packets of honey on the way to the hospital,” said Jacobsen.

The X-Ray confirmed what she suspected: Maggie had ingested a button battery. But thankfully, it was in her stomach and not her esophagus.

Dr. Joseph Iocono, a pediatric general thoracic surgeon with Akron Children’s Hospital, said that the Jacobsens did everything right.

“They were able to get the honey in, and not only did the honey stop the conduction or slow the conduction of the battery, but it also kind of greases a little bit of passing through,” he said.

Iocono said he’d performed about half a dozen reconstructive surgeries due to battery ingestion in the past two years, and it’s rising.

According to a study by Dr. Mark Chandler published Monday, foreign body ingestion was the fourth leading cause of calls to poison control centers for children aged five years and younger in the United States in 2019.

“It causes the pH to go immediately up, and it's almost it's a base injury. It can erode through the first layer of the esophagus, the mucosa, within a couple of hours. We are dealing with injuries of this nature, and really, this is something that time is of the essence,” said Iocono.

He said if you believe your child swallowed something, no matter what it is, it’s better to be safe than sorry and take them to the hospital immediately, especially if your child has a coughing spell, trouble swallowing, or begins to drool.

He said honey would help slow down the erosion process if your child is one or older.

“If you have honey in the house, you can give them a teaspoon, a couple of teaspoons every 10 to 20 minutes,” he said.

While Maggie was admitted overnight for monitoring, the battery passed even further down her intestine in the morning, where the threat wasn’t as high, so she was released. Jacobsen said they’re still monitoring her, but she’s doing great.

“Several times, they said ‘it just coats the battery. It helps it keep moving. You did exactly the right thing,’” said Jacobsen.

Jacobsen said she didn’t want to share what had happened at first, but then she realized it might be able to help someone else, so she took to Facebook.

“I think there was a little bit of like embarrassment. Like, I wasn't watching my child well enough. I wasn't maintaining our toys well enough,” she said. “But I have lots of friends who have young kids, and I just thought I just wanted to tell them, and I'm just willing to suffer a little bit of embarrassment to say, hey, if this ever happens to you, this is what you should do.”

Her post has been shared nearly 200,000 times in just a few days. People are commenting, thanking her for the information and sharing similar stories; for that, she is grateful.

I absolutely feel like God was watching out for our little girl. I believe that everything happens for a reason.”

Jessi Schultz at WEWS first reported this story.