pneumothorax from mother’s kiss?

29 May

Recently heard someone mention they stopped using the Mother’s Kiss technique for nasal foreign bodies due to risk of pneumothorax.  


  • parent places mouth over the child’s open mouth, forming a firm seal as if about to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • While occluding the unaffected nostril with a finger, the adult then blows until they feel the resistance caused by closure of the child’s glottis
  • at which point the adult gives a sharp exhalation to deliver a short puff of air into the child’s mouth
  • hopefully, nasal foreign body (and some snot–messy) comes flying out


While this idea makes sense as a possibility (sudden positive pressure from mom without a release valve–though its not usually a perfect seal–might pop a lung in theory), wondered if there’s any data out there that addressed this theoretical risk.

yielded not a ton. pretty much this:

Efficacy and safety of the “mother’s kiss” technique: a systematic review of case reports and case series, by Cook S, et al.

review of 8 articles

overall success rate: 59.9% (91/152)

No adverse effects were reported.

“a ruptured tympanic membrane or pneumothorax resulting from this technique has never been reported” (article published Nov 2012)

  • glottis is closed during the technique, so there is little risk of barotrauma to the lungs
  • the pressure used is low, comparable with that generated during sneezing (about 60 mm Hg)

possible confounder: reporting bias (Positive results tend to be published more frequently than negative results)



according to the data we have, mother’s kiss seems safe.  worth keeping in the toolbox.


References: article; pic 1; pic 2

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