Recovery position 'a must for unconscious children and babies'

toddler feet Image copyright SPL
Image caption If a child blacks out, they should be rolled on to their side and into the recovery position

Doctors are reminding the public that unconscious infants and children should be put in the recovery position.

The advice follows a European study that found dangerous manoeuvres, such as slapping, were often used instead.

Only a quarter of the 553 children in the study were put into the recommended first-aid position that keeps the airway clear and open.

Nearly half were instead shaken, slapped or had water flicked on their face in an attempt to bring them round.

Putting the child in the recovery position was associated with a significantly lower risk - 28% - of hospital admission, the Archives of Disease in Childhood study found.

In comparison, potentially dangerous manoeuvres appeared to double the risk - probably because the patients didn't recover as quickly, according to the study authors.

Recovery position

Image copyright SPL

How to do it:

  • with the casualty lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side
  • place the arm nearest you at a right angle to their body with their hand upwards, towards the head
  • tuck their other hand under the side of their head, so that the back of their hand is touching their cheek
  • bend the knee farthest from you to a right angle
  • carefully roll the person on to their side by pulling on the bent knee
  • the top arm should be supporting the head and the bottom arm will stop you rolling them too far
  • open their airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin and check that nothing is blocking their airway
  • stay with the person and monitor their condition until help arrives

How to put someone in the recovery position

Lead researcher Dr Luigi Titomanlio said, ideally, everyone should know how to place an infant, child or adult in the recovery position.

"It is so simple to do. It's a simple manoeuvre that can be performed by even a six-year-old."

He said it was understandable that parents might panic if their child has a fit or faint and loses consciousness and that is when first aid training should kick in.

"What was really worrying was that some parents were shaking their baby. This is dangerous. You can have brain damage from this, especially in children less than two years old," he said.

"People should use the recovery position. You can do it even in a baby. The important thing is getting the chin in the right position to protect the airway."

Dr Ffion Davies, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "It would be great if studies like this prompt more parents to learn some basic first aid.

"It would not only help in situations of crisis but also give parents peace of mind that they are a little more prepared if faced with an emergency."

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