Fasting – All You Need to Know (A Guide for Parents/Carers)

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This leaflet aims to give information to parents and carers of Children/Young  People who are required to fast before an operation/procedure which may require a general anaesthetic or for the child/young person’s stomach to be empty. We hope the following information will help answer any questions you may have about “fasting”.

Q. “What is fasting?
A. “To give nothing by mouth for a specified length of time.”

Reasons for Fasting
To ensure that your Child/Young Person’s stomach is empty and therefore avoid serious complications associated with vomiting (being sick) or regurgitation under General Anaesthetic or Sedation, or for specific tests.

Q. “What is sedation?”
A. “Other medications given to make your Child/Young person sleepy”.

Restricted Fasting Period
Clear Fluids
It is safe for a healthy child/young person to take clear fluids up to one hour before the general anaesthetic when the surgery is planned.

Q. “What is clear fluid?”
A. “Clear fluid is described as one through which newsprint can be read.”

Blackcurrant Juices or Fizzy Drinks
No blackcurrant juice or fizzy drinks must be consumed 6 hours or less before surgery.

Breast Milk
Breast milk can be taken up to four hours before the general anaesthetic for planned surgery.

Formula Milk
Formula milk is counted as a “solid food” and may be given up to six hours before the General Anaesthetic.

Intake of Solid Foods
No food must be taken six hours before a General Anaesthetic.

Chewing Gum and Sweets
Chewing gum should not be permitted on the day of the operation. Sweets including lollipops are counted as solid food and should not be allowed six hours before the General Anaesthetic.

Regular Medications
Regular medications should be continued before the operation unless you are told otherwise. Any medications required to be taken with water should be taken with no more than 30 mls (six teaspoons). If you are unsure please ask the nurse or doctor at the pre-assessment clinic or check with the admitting ward.

General Recommendations
Higher risk Children/Young People should follow the same guidance as healthy children unless you are advised by the doctor or nurse differently.

Q. “What does higher risk mean?”
A. “Children/Young people who are at risk of regurgitation, reflux, or who have diabetes.” Children with diabetes should contact the diabetes team for individual advice regarding fasting.

Re-starting Fluids after the Operation
The nurse or doctor will advise you as to when your child may resume eating and drinking. Fluids can be offered by mouth to healthy children when they are fully awake after the operation/procedure has finished. Babies may also resume breast-feeding when they are fully awake.

Morning Operation/Procedure
It is advised that your child should not eat food for six hours (03:00 hrs) before the anaesthetic. The child can have clear fluids up to and no later than 06:30 hours.

Afternoon Operation/Procedure
It is advised that your child should not eat food (e.g. breakfast) any later than 06:30 hours. The child can have clear fluids up to and no later than 10:30 hours.

Special Blood Tests / Investigations
Please check with the nurse or doctor prior to the procedure if your child must be fasted or not.

Further Information
Ward 5 Telephone: 01908 996377
Pre-assessment Clinic Telephone: 01908
Or contact the pre assessment nurse directly via their bleep number provided at pre assessment.
Paediatric Day Surgery Telephone: 01908 996389

• Royal College of Nursing
• The Royal College of Anaesthetists (Guideline for the multi-disciplinary team 2005)