Background Loss of consciousness (LOC) is often seen in children. The response of caregivers to a child with LOC has been poorly investigated. Potential caregivers (parents, teachers) seem to have a poor knowledge of the recovery position (RP)—that is, the position into which an unconscious child should be placed in order to protect the airway.
Objectives To report the management and diagnoses of LOC in childhood, and to evaluate variables associated with an increased hospital admission rate.
Methods We conducted a prospective cohort study of consecutive children aged between 0 and 18 years diagnosed with LOC at 11 paediatric emergency departments (PEDs) of 6 European countries. The enrolment period was 3 months. Data were obtained from parental interviews, PED reports and clinical examination.
Results 553 children were enrolled. The most frequent final diagnoses causing LOC were seizures (n=278, 50.3%), and vasovagal syncope (n=124, 22.4%). Caregivers put the child in the RP in 145 cases (26.2%). The RP was independently associated with a significant decrease in the admission rate (aOR=0.28; 95% CI 0.17 to 0.48; p<0.0001).
Conclusions Our study demonstrates for the first time that the RP may reduce the admission rate of infants with LOC. Caregivers often perform inadequate manoeuvres when a child becomes unconscious. Campaigns aiming at increasing knowledge of the RP should be promoted.
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