CHILDREN who swallow American one-cent coins can suffer serious stomach ulcers, claim doctors at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Sara O'Hara and her colleagues discovered the problem when treating a two-year-old boy for an upset stomach. X-rays showed a metal disc full of holes. When the doctors removed it from the boy's stomach they found it was a 1989 coin he had swallowed four days earlier.
Most coins are made from copper or nickel, or mixtures of the two. But in 1982, the US replaced its 95 per cent copper one-cent coins with zinc coins coated with copper. While stomach acid causes little damage to copper and nickel coins, O'Hara's says that in her tests it corroded holes through the copper-plated zinc coins in two days. [...]
When a child swallows a penny, it can react with stomach acid to create a toxic mixture as corrosive as car battery acid, leading to severe stomach inflammation and even ulcers, physicians at Duke University Medical Center have discovered.
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