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New infant choking first aid procedure

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed

20th February 2014 – New advice is being issued to parents explaining what they should do if their baby starts to choke, after research showed that many had no idea what action to take.

The procedure is outlined in an updated edition of the First Aid Manual which has been written by 3 leading first aid organisations.

Previously the advice was to lay the baby along a parent or carer's arm but this has now been changed to a thigh because this is considered a more stable position.

Parents 'not confident'

An online survey of 1,001 parents of children under 5 carried out in January by Markettiers4DC found that one-third had experienced a situation where their child started choking but half of these did not know the correct procedure.

Under half (47%) of parents said they managed to stop the child from choking but did not know if they followed official advice.

Only under 1 in 10 (9%) of parents said they would feel very confident administrating first aid if their child or another started choking, with around 1 in 6 (16%) admitting they would not be confident at all in this situation.

Small objects

Choking is a fairly common hazard for very young children, with a wide range of objects posing a risk. These include small items such as marbles, buttons, peanuts and small toys.

The familiar advice to prevent choking accidents is to keep small objects out of the reach of small children.

However, in cases where a child does choke, Clive James, training officer at St John Ambulance explains the new procedure: "If an infant is choking then, in the first instance, they should be laid face down along your thigh and supported by your arm, give them five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

"Previously this was done along the arm but the leg is felt to be more secure and provide more support."

He continues in a statement: "Check their mouth for any obstruction. If there is still a blockage then turn the infant onto their back and give up to five chest thrusts. Use two fingers – push inwards and upwards against their breastbone.

"If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, call for an ambulance and continue until help arrives."


Image: Baby choking first aid steps - St John Ambulance

The 10th edition of the First Aid Manual has been compiled by St John Ambulance, St Andrew's First Aid and the British Red Cross and is published by Dorling Kindersley.

Reviewed on February 20, 2014

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