Kidsafe Victoria and the Monash Children’s Hospital have issued a warning to parents and carers about the dangers of using face masks or coverings, particularly for children under 2 years of age.

The warning comes after the introduction of requirements for people living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire to wear a face covering when leaving home, which came into effect from 11:59pm on Wednesday 22nd July 2020. 

Under the new requirements, children who are under the age of 12 years old do not need to wear a face covering. Advice provided on The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website states that children under two years should never wear a face covering due to choking and strangulation risks. 

Prof Nicholas Freezer (MD FRACP), Medical Director at Monash Children’s Hospital, said that the smaller size of children’s airways could make it more difficult for them to breath if they have a face covering on.

“Babies have very small airways – having any sort of face covering makes it difficult for them to inhale and exhale, which can lead to suffocation.”

“Infants are not able to alert an adult if they are having trouble breathing while wearing a mask, which also increases the risk”, said Prof Nicholas Freezer. 

Melanie Courtney, CEO of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted that face coverings could also pose a strangulation risk for infants.

“Items such as cords, drawstrings and chains can pose a strangulation hazard for babies. In the case of face coverings, children may become tangled in the coverings or their straps, especially if they are trying to take them off, which could pose a strangulation hazard”, said Mrs Courtney. 

Further information and advice on the requirement for face coverings is available on the DHHS website.

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