Taking blood samples from children (EN)Taking blood samples from children (EN)
Bloedprikken bij kinderen
Sometimes blood samples need to be taken from children for further testing or analysis. This leaflet provides information on what you and your child can expect. It also explains the best way you and your child can prepare for giving a blood sample.
How are blood samples taken?
We are happy to admit children under the age of 8 for a blood test at the polyclinic blood collection point in Isala Zwolle (V4.0) or Isala Diaconessenhuis Meppel (route number 50).
Please include the application form you have received and a valid form of ID for your child (ID card or passport) when you arrive at the laboratory.
In babies, blood is collected from the heel. When children are slightly older, blood is collected from a finger or, if possible, from the arm or the hand. This depends on the size of the child and the amount of blood needed for testing or analysis. If your child is big enough, he or she can sit on your lap while having his or her blood taken. If blood has to be taken from the heel, it is easier if your child is lying on a table. Of course you can stay with your child to comfort him or her.
Calmly explain to your child what is going to happen. Also be honest about the fact that the needle prick can hurt. Fortunately, the pain subsides quickly, but it is alright if your child cries a little.
A child will feel less pain if he or she is relaxed. Therefore, try to distract your child a little. You can stroke your baby or let him or her suck on a pacifier while you talk to him or her. You can tell a toddler or preschooler something fun, or have the child tell you something. For instance, you can ask a school-age child to count to a hundred.
If blood is to be taken from your child’s arm or hand, you can numb the skin beforehand by means of an
Anaesthetic ointment (EMLA ointment)
This ointment contains a local anesthetic and should be kept in place using a special adhesive bandage. You can ask the physician’s outpatient clinic or the laboratory about this ointment. After applying the ointment, it takes 45 minutes until the skin is thoroughly numbed.
If your child needs to have his or her blood taken again after this visit, you can ask the laboratory staff whether you can take a tube of EMLA ointment and an adhesive bandage home with you. Please note: the ointment must be stored in the refrigerator and has a limited shelf life.
Anaesthetic spray (“banana spray”)
This spray takes a few minutes to act before the skin is well anaesthetised.
Directions for using EMLA ointment
For children aged three to twelve months, you should not use more than two grams of ointment per treatment. This amounts to approximately half the contents of a five-gram tube. You should not apply the ointment to an area larger than a two euro coin. The pain-relieving ointment contains tetracaine cream 4%, methylparaben and propylparaben. You should not use the ointment on:
- children less than three months of age;
- children who have hypersensitivity to local anesthetics.
Follow the instructions below carefully:
- Remove the protective backing (printed) from the adhesive bandage.
- Apply the adhesive bandage (with adhesive side facing downwards) over the EMLA ointment. Avoid spreading out the ointment.
- Remove the paper edge. Press the edges down and leave the adhesive bandage in place for at least 45 minutes (and for no longer than four hours).
- You can remove the adhesive bandage after 45 minutes to 1 hour and the blood sample can be taken. The numbing effect lasts about two hours.
Taking blood samples
Once the puncture site has been numbed, the laboratory staff member will remove the special adhesive bandage and clean the puncture site. When blood is taken from the arm or the hand, an elastic band (tourniquet) will first be placed around your child’s arm to make it easier to take a blood sample. Sometimes it can be useful for your child to squeeze your finger or thumb with his or her hand. This makes it easier to feel the blood vessel. A winged infusion set will then be used to take the blood sample. It is not possible to numb the skin when blood is taken from the heel or finger. In these cases, the area for the injection will only be cleaned, and the blood sample will be taken using a lancing device.
After taking a blood sample
After your child’s blood has been taken, he or she will be able to choose a nice adhesive bandage and a small gift. Talk to your child about having his or her blood taken. How did it go? Did it hurt a lot? Did the ointment help? This is the best way of helping your child to deal with this experience.
Results of the examination
The laboratory will give the doctor the results of the examination.
If you have any questions or comments about taking blood samples, please discuss them with the attending physician or the laboratory staff member. You can also phone the laboratory. We can be contacted on (038) 424 24 68 (Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 17:00 hours).