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Starvation guidelines


  • A period of fasting is necessary before a general anaesthetic
  • Fasting reduces the risk of regurgitation of stomach contents, which may pass into the lungs
  • Clear fluids should be encouraged until two hours before surgery

The fasting times are shown in the following table:


Less than six months old

More than six months old


Six hours

Six hours

Breast milk / formula milk

Four hours

Six hours

Clear fluids

Two hours

Two hours

  • Clear fluids are non-particulate, non-carbonated drinks which you can see through. For example: clear fruit juices, water, glucose based sports drinks, black tea/coffee, but not milk
  • Chewing gum or sucking sweets during the fasting period is not recommended