What do you do when a toddler or small child sticks something up his nose? This is a problem many parents and guardians have to face. Do you call someone, do you look for some tweezers, or take the child to hospital?

Dr. Stephanie Cook, a GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) at Buxted Medical Center in East Sussex, England, reported in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) that foreign bodies getting stuck in the nasal cavity can be resolved with the “Mother’s Kiss”, a remedy that has been around at least since 1965.

Dr. Cook and colleagues set out to determine how safe the technique is.

You have a child with a foreign body lodged in his nose.

  • Place your mouth over the child’s mouth
  • Hold the unaffected nostril, effectively closing it with one finger
  • Blow into the child’s mouth
  • Air will push through the nostril that has the foreign body stuck in it; this may force it out

The researchers searched through Embase, CINAHL, MEDLINE, AMED Complementary and Allied Medicine, and the British Nursing Index for articles that mentioned Mother’s Kiss. They excluded articles that dealt only with animals.

Their primary outcomes were how successful the technique was at extracting the foreign object from the child’s nasal cavity, as well as any reported adverse events.

They checked for factors which might predict the chance of success of Mother’s Technique.

The researchers eventually had eight published articles which met their inclusion criteria. Using Mother’s Kiss was found to have an overall success rate of 59.9%. There were no reported adverse effects.

Dr. Cook concluded:

“Evidence from case reports and case series suggests that the mother’s kiss technique is a useful and safe first-line option for the removal of foreign bodies from the nasal cavities of children.”

The advantage of Mother’s Kiss is that it appears to have a high success rate and virtually no adverse effects. In fact, the worst that can occur is that the object stays stuck where it is.

Doctors say they often use this technique in emergency departments, and children do not find them scary or uncomfortable. It depends on whether the emergency doctor can persuade the parent to do it.

Most health care professionals advise parents and guardians only to perform Mother’s Kiss with a doctor present. It is important that it is done correctly and that the object does not get stuck more, or makes its way into the lungs.

Most experts agree that Mother’s Kiss is preferable to using suction, forceps, hooks or sedation to remove foreign object from the nose. However, if the technique does not work, something more invasive will need to be done.

Written by Christian Nordqvist