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Nitrous oxide and oxygen use in hospitals

AAP logoAAP 26/07/2016

WHAT IS NITROUS OXIDE?

* Known as "laughing gas" nitrous oxide is colourless, non-flammable gas used to relieve pain and anxiety.

* Administered to women during labour and dental patients undergoing minor procedures.

HOW IS OXYGEN USED?

* Given to newborns with breathing issues due to heart or lung problems.

* Administered via a nasal cannula or an oxygen hood placed over the baby's head.

* Lack of oxygen at birth can lead to long-term disabilities and developmental delays.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NITROUS OXIDE REPLACES OXYGEN?

* Oxygen is vital for brain development in infancy.

* Oxygen deprivation will cause brain damage or death.

* Nitrous oxide is generally only given to children 18-24 months or older.

* Difficult to predict long-term effects of replacing oxygen with nitrous oxide without knowing exact age and how long the child was deprived of oxygen.

SOURCE: Dr Paul Bauert, head of pediatrics Royal Darwin Hospital

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