When Should Oxygen Be Given To Children At High Altitude?

This article was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood in 2009.

The authors reviewed 14 studies in the scientific literature for normal oxygen values for children ages 1 week to 12 years.

Hypoxemia (low oxygen) was defined as oxygen saturation at or below the 2.5th% for healthy children at a given altitude.

At 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) elevation 97.5 % of children had oxygen concentrations above 90%

At 10,498 feet (3,200 meters) elevation this decreased to 85%, with  2.5 % of children were below this.

Should children living in Leadville, Alma and Fairplay be allowed to go untreated when their oxygen levels are 85-89%?

Now that many families have a pulse oximeter parents are measuring their children’s oxygen levels when they are sick, and presumably when they are well.

Therefore deciding when a child has a low oxygen that needs treatment can be based on the child’s levels when healthy. Unfortunately, these oximeters are not accurate in infants.

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