Consensus statement on clear fluids fasting for elective pediatric general anesthesia

Paediatr Anaesth. 2018 May;28(5):411-414. doi: 10.1111/pan.13370. Epub 2018 Apr 27.


Pediatric anesthetic guidelines for the management of preoperative fasting of clear fluids are currently 2 hours. The traditional 2 hours clear fluid fasting time was recommended to decrease the risk of pulmonary aspiration and is not in keeping with current literature. It appears that a liberalized clear fluid fasting regime does not affect the incidence of pulmonary aspiration and in those who do aspirate, the sequelae are not usually severe or long-lasting. With a 2-hour clear fasting policy, the literature suggests that this translates into 6-7 hours actual duration of fasting with several studies up to 15 hours. Fasting for prolonged periods increases thirst and irritability and results in detrimental physiological and metabolic effects. With a 1-hour clear fluid policy, there is no increased risk of pulmonary aspiration and studies demonstrate the stomach is empty. There is less nausea and vomiting, thirst, hunger, and anxiety, if allowed a drink closer to surgery. Children appear more comfortable, better behaved and possibly more compliant. In children less than 36 months this has positive physiological and metabolic effects. It is practical to allow children to drink until 1 hour prior to anesthesia on the day of surgery. In this joint consensus statement, the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, the European Society for Paediatric Anaesthesiology, and L'Association Des Anesthésistes-Réanimateurs Pédiatriques d'Expression Française agree that, based on the current convincing evidence base, unless there is a clear contraindication, it is safe and recommended for all children able to take clear fluids, to be allowed and encouraged to have them up to 1 hour before elective general anesthesia.

Keywords: complications; general anesthesia; outcomes.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Anesthesia, General / standards*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consensus
  • Drinking
  • Fasting
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Preoperative Care / standards*
  • Quality Improvement