Doctors have warned that unconscious infants and children must be put in the recovery position, after a study revealed that other techniques, including slapping, were being used as an alternative. The European study, which involved more than 550 children, revealed that only a quarter of children were placed in the recovery position by adults who were trying to revive them.
Almost 50% of children were shaken, slapped or splashed with cold water to try and bring them around, rather than being placed in the recovery position, a position designed to ensure the airway is kept open.
The study, which was conducted by the Archive of Disease in Childhood, also suggested that placing children in the recovery position contributed to higher success rates in reviving children. The risk of hospital admission was 28% lower in children who had been put in the recovery position and significantly higher in those who had been subjected to “dangerous manoeuvres” such as shaking and slapping.
Dr Luigi Titomanlio, lead author of the study, said that ideally, every member of the public should be aware of how to put a child in the recovery position. Although it is understandable for parents to panic in a situation where their child loses consciousness, knowing how to deal with this scenario can vastly improve the child’s chances of survival. Dr Titomanlio also expressed concern at the number of parents who had tried to revive their child by shaking them. This can contribute to brain damage, especially in infants.
In order to place a child in the recovery position, you should lay them on the floor, kneel down at their side and place the arm nearest to you at a 90 degree angle with the hand pointing upwards towards the child’s head. Place the child’s other hand at the side of their head, so that the back of the hand lies against their cheek. Move the leg furthest away from you gently, so that the knee is at a right angle and very carefully roll their body, so that they on their side. The arm should support the head and the other arm will prevent you from pushing them over onto the side too far. When in position, gently tilt the head back and lift the chin to open up the airway.