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An update on Fasting for Children before surgery


Children and adults are fasted before procedures requiring sedation or general anaesthesia in the belief that this will reduce the incidence of regurgitation and possible aspiration of gastric contents into the lungs. The rationale behind this is that anaesthesia reduces protective cough reflexes, unlike natural sleep where these are maintained, making aspiration more likely. Aspiration may then cause significant morbidity associated with pneumonitis. (Mendelson 1946, Teabeaut 1952, Roberts and Shirley 1974)

Unfortunately there are many unanswered questions when it comes to these rationales and assumptions and there is a lot we do not know about fasting in healthy children.

This education video looks at what we do know and why we have formulated current recommendations.

Our discussion looks at aspiration in children, its incidence and outcomes, and fasting for solids and breast milk in babies.

The main focus, however, is on on clear liquid recommendations, as this is where most research has been directed. (Splinter and Schreiner 1999, Cochrane 2009, Andersson et al 2015)

This video aims to help Healthcare Professionals to:

  1. Explain why we need to fast before procedures.
  2. Describe the problems faced when fasting children
  3. List gastric emptying times for solids, milk and clear liquids.
  4. Outline new Guidelines for Fasting.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain why we need to fast before procedures
  2. Describe the problems faced when fasting children
  3. List gastric emptying times for solids, milk and clear liquids
  4. Outline new Guidelines for Fasting.


This activity is accepted by CPD Home as a Domain 1: Educational Activity in alignment with the CPD Home Program Guide 2024.  

Disclaimer: Please note, once you click 'Register now' you will be leaving the AMA’s CPD Home website and entering a third-party education provider’s website. If you choose to register for this learning, you will need to provide some of your personal information directly to the third-party education provider. If you have any queries about how third-party education providers use, disclose or store your personal information, you should consult their privacy policy.

Upon completion, your CPD activity record may take up to 4 weeks to be reflected on your CPD Home Dashboard.

CPD Activity Details
Educational Activities
General Learning
CPD Hours
1h : 0m
Paediatric Medicine, Surgical Procedures and the Operative Environment, Patient outcomes
Medical practitioners
Applicable CAPE Aspects
Professionalism, Ethical Practice

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