Teaching parents to put young children in the recovery position after they have lost consciousness may help curb hospital admission rates, according to researchers.
A team of researchers from across Europe assessed the reaction of 533 parents when their child passed out.
“Campaigns aimed at increasing the knowledge and skills of adults to deliver safe, effective first aid to children… should be promoted”
The children, who were aged 0-18 years, had either passed out within the preceding 24 hours or were unconscious when they arrived at one of 11 children’s emergency care departments.
Parents were asked how they had responded, including whether they had called emergency services, given their child medicines, put their child in the recovery position or used other manoeuvres.
The average age of the children was three years, and one in five had an underlying condition, the most common of which was epilepsy.
Parents had called the emergency services in only around half of the cases. In 26% they had placed their child in the recovery position.
However, in 53%, parents had carried out other manoeuvres, of which 17% were regarded as potentially dangerous. In some cases the child had been shaken. Other tactics parents used included putting water on the face, and slapping or blowing on the face.
Over half the children (56%) were admitted to hospital and the remainder were discharged after seeing a doctor. Six of the children died while in hospital.
Analysis showed that putting the child in the recovery position was associated with a 28% overall lowered risk of hospital admission.
For children under the age of two years, this risk was 10 times lower, irrespective of other influential factors, such as length of black-out and a diagnosis of seizures.
Meanwhile, manoeuvres deemed to be potentially dangerous were associated with a more than doubling in risk of hospital admission.
The researchers said: “Our study showed that the [recovery position] may reduce the hospital admission rate of children [who have passed out], but often is not performed.
“Campaigns aimed at increasing the knowledge and skills of adults to deliver safe, effective first aid to children, and specifically those highlighting the importance of using the [recovery position] should be promoted,” they said in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.