My Child is Having Sedation: Advice for Parents

Please note, this page is printable by selecting the normal print options on your computer.

Why does my child need sedation?
Sedation will make your child feel sleepy and calm; it can help children to cope with any potentially frightening or uncomfortable procedures. Sedation may also be used if they are to have an MRI or CT scan.

This is because:
• The machines tend to be very noisy & some children find this upsetting
• Your child will need to lie very still for up to 30 -40 mins, and this is often not possible without sedation.

Different Types of Sedation
Sedation is usually given as a medicine by mouth; occasionally it may be necessary to use a special gas or injection. Sedation may be given at different levels and may make your child either
• Relaxed and sleepy
• Very sleepy but easily awakened
• Deeply Sleepy, difficult to wake

The doctor will decide which level is best for your child.

Can I stay with my child while they are sedated?
You will be offered the opportunity to stay with your child if it is appropriate. If you decide to be with them while they are sedated you will be given advice about what to do to help. After your child is sedated you may be asked to wait outside the treatment room while a procedure is performed.

Are there any side effects or possible complications?
Sedation as with any procedure can have associated risks.

Risks may include:
• Breathing difficulties
• Vomiting

Your child will be assessed & cared for before, during & after the sedation by an experienced nurse/doctor. Your child will be continually monitored to ensure their safety.

How can I help prepare my child?
There are many things that you can do! All children (except infants too young to understand) should be told:
● that they are going into hospital
● what test/ scan they will be having
● basic information about what will happen to them in hospital.

Please phone the hospital if your child develops a severe cough or cold, or has contact with chicken pox shortly before the day of the investigation. This is very important as your child should be well on the day of sedation.

Nothing to eat & drink – Food & Fasting (‘Nil by mouth’)
The hospital should give you clear instructions about fasting. It is very important for your child to follow these.

If there is food or liquid in your child’s stomach during the sedation, it could come up into the back of the throat and damage his or her lungs. These are the latest times that you should give your child anything to eat or drink before sedation:

Children under 1 year:
• Clear fluids – 1 hour
• Breast milk – 4 hours
• Formula milk – 6 hours
• Solids and cow’s milk – 6 hours

Children over 1 year:
• Clear fluids – 1 hour
• All milk & solid foods – 6 hours

Informed Consent
It is very important that the child is accompanied by an adult who has parental responsibility, and who is able to give informed consent. The doctor / nurse will explain the procedure, its risks and benefits and any alternatives that are available. You will be given the opportunity to ask questions, discuss any concerns and then asked to sign a consent form.