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What Oxygen Level Is Too Low For A Child: Unique Information!

What Oxygen Level Is Too Low For A Child: Unique Information!

Oxygen is the name of a gas, which has no color taste, shape, or odor. Still, it is very important for living organisms such as human beings, animals, and even plants. What oxygen level is too low for a child? If the oxygen saturation level is lower than 88% then it is too low for a child.

In this blog, we will discuss the importance of oxygen, what oxygen saturation levels are too low for a child, the symptoms of low oxygen saturation levels, and the causes of low oxygen saturation.

The Importance of Oxygen

Is there anything more important than air? The answer is a big NO! Air contains the most important gas named oxygen which is so vital for living beings. Living beings cannot survive without oxygen for long. With the help of Oxygen living beings live, grow, reproduce and turn food into energy.

The Brain Needs A Lot of Oxygen

The brain is the most important part of the body. According to health care officials brain needs 20% of oxygen out of total body consumption. The brain is the head office of the body and its cells always remain in working order. The brain cells have to send messages and orders to the rest of the body. So, it needs a clear amount of energy for cellular respiration. Children need it in extra quantity because their brain development is more rapid than adults. Therefore, a clear amount of oxygen is compulsory for children to make sure their systems are working properly.

The brain consumes 0.1 calories every minute. But when you are involved in some difficult task and you are thinking hard it consumes 1.5 calories per minute. To fulfill this need the brain needs so much oxygen. If you cannot find enough oxygen just for five minutes, the brain cells start to die. First, you will feel respiratory distress later which causes severe brain damage which can result in death as well.

Body Immune System Needs Oxygen

The body’s immune system is a safety system against various diseases. It fights different viruses and bacteria. Blood oxygen works like a fuel for this system and gives the energy to protect our health. Low blood oxygen levels make the body’s immune system weaker, which is quite dangerous and allows various diseases to attack your body easily. Such as trouble breathing, hurdle in the bloodstream into the lung, and low levels of oxygen in the blood which is called hypoxemia which can result in fewer red blood cells.

Oxygen therapy and oxygen saturation monitor

The pulse oximeter is a device that is used as an oxygen saturation monitor or to measure blood oxygen levels. Oxygen therapy is used in the hospital and determined that how much oxygen is needed by the patients. If the blood oxygen level is too low then patients are provided with enough oxygen via nasal cannulas.

what oxygen level is too low for a child; below 88%. It can be checked by pulse oximeter.
The pulse oximeter can tell about oxygen saturation levels.

Low Blood Oxygen Levels Can Draw Serious Consequences

  • A low blood oxygen level can spoil the digestive system and the body will not get proper energy.
  • The human body can develop Hypoxemia due to lower oxygen saturation levels. And if it is not treated in time, then it can damage or hurt different organs of the body. Ultimately, it can cause death.
  • The lower level of oxygen can cause confusion, a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, trouble breathing, and can make sick children.
  • Shortness of breath, sweating, and color changes of the skin.
  • The lung can catch so many diseases due to lower levels of oxygen, such as inflammation in the lungs, lung infection, etc. It can harm the whole respiratory tract and system.

What oxygen level is too low for a child?

The level of oxygen saturation can vary depending upon the children’s underlying health. Still, people frequently ask this question what is a normal oxygen level for a baby? As we have already discussed that a normal level of oxygen is so crucial for the human body. And healthy children need more oxygen for healthy growth.

According to Rochester medical center children grow and develop at a very fast speed. Therefore, they need more oxygen than adults. The body of children needs almost 95%-100% oxygen to survive better. It is considered a normal level of oxygen for their age group. It is alarming if the child’s oxygen level is lower than that.

What oxygen level is too low for a child? If the level of oxygen is lower than 95% then it is not good for the body of a child. A lower level of oxygen than 95% is abnormal for both children and adults. As it can lead to drastic endings. Oxygen levels can be easily measured by pulse oximeters. It can accurately diagnosis an infant’s adult’s and a child’s oxygen level.

what oxygen level is too low for a child, lower than 88%
The girl needs a nasal cannula to fulfill her blood oxygen level.

If the level of oxygen saturation is between 95% and 88% the child can survive with extra effort. This level is a safe and average level for the human body. But once the level decrease to 88% it would be very dangerous. Below 88% oxygen level is too low for a child.

The amount of oxygen which is 88% can go down at any time and the child needs to be hospitalized. Because this level is so dangerous and can affect the important parts of the body, such as the brain, lungs, and heart. It must need to treat as quickly as possible. Therefore, according to child specialists and health care professionals 87% oxygen level is too low for a child especially infants.

The Signs Of Low Oxygen Saturation

The body’s oxygen level indicates that there is a normal distribution of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. An optimal level of oxygen assures the health of a child. Red blood cells carry most of the oxygen, which they collect from the lungs and deliver to all parts of the body for healthy growth and functioning.

The following signs can be observed if there is a low level of oxygen in the body:


Coughing is a very normal reflex to clear the throat. But sometimes your child coughs a lot and it causes trouble breathing. Then it can be due to a lower blood oxygen level in the body. Every cell of the body demands oxygen from the lungs and when the lungs cannot find it, he starts to cough excessively.

Fast Heart Rate

A Fast heart rate is not always a reason to worry. Sometimes heart rate increases due to exercise, fear, or stress. Still, if you notice that your newborn infants or child’s heartbeat is more than 100 times per minute along with cough then you should see the doctor. As it can be due to a lower level of oxygen. And a lower level of oxygen can damage the brain within a few minutes.

Rapid and Shortness Of Breath

If you notice that, your child is unable to breathe properly then you must see your doctor. A lower level of oxygen can cause either fast and rapid breathing or shortness of breath. If the shortness of breath is not treated in time then your child would get faint. So, he needs a quick supply of oxygen, which can be available in hospitals.

If there is some delay to take your child to the hospital, then open the windows. You can take him to an open place or near to the plants. Because plants are also a quick source to provide oxygen instantly.

Sweating and Wheezing

We have already discussed what oxygen level is too low for a baby. Still, if you see your child sweating and wheezing a lot then quickly check the level of oxygen in his body. If there is no weather condition such as heat yet your child is sweating it can be alarming. Sometimes the lower level of oxygen can cause sweating and wheezing.

Some Other Symptoms

Above I have mentioned a few symptoms which can depict that there is a lower level of oxygen in the body. Still, there are some other symptoms too which you need to be alert if you find them in your child. These symptoms are excessive headache, and changes in the color of skin, especially if it changes from blue to red.

The blue color of skin, nails, and lips can also be a symptom of a lower level of body oxygen. If your child experiences confusion and disorientation without any clear reason then it can be due to lower body oxygen.

The Causes Of Low Oxygen Saturation

There can be numerous reasons for the low level of oxygen saturation. You need to be extra careful about your child, during sleep regarding his bedding, stuffed toys, blanket, etc. If the bed of your child is full it can also cause low oxygen saturation. Sometimes low oxygen saturation depends upon the health condition of the child. Yet we are going to discuss some of the main underlying causes behind low oxygen saturation.

  1. Pneumonia can be the reason which can cause a low level of oxygen. Pneumonia is an infection that attacks with the help of different microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites.
  2. A severe asthma attack is another reason for the low oxygen level of the body. Loss of appetite, dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, difficulty in sleeping, and headache are the prominent symptoms of asthma.
  3. Trauma or stress can cause low oxygen saturation and sometimes result in damaged lungs.
  4. Pulmonary edema is a disease in which water or fluid collects in the lungs which becomes the cause of low oxygen levels.
  5. Obesity and being at high altitudes are also causes of low levels of oxygen.
  6. Pulmonary fibrosis which becomes the cause of scarred and damaged lungs, become the reason for low oxygen level.
  7. Cardiovascular diseases which are directly related to the heart can cause low oxygen levels in the body.
  8. Sleep apnea, Cyanide poisoning, Certain pain medications, and other drugs that can depress breathing, such as narcotics and anesthetics can cause low oxygen saturation.

Treatment for Low Oxygen Saturation

Once you come to know what oxygen level is too low for a child you should check it on and off. You can diagnose it with a physical examination. you can visit the doctor he will listen to the heartbeat. He will examine the lungs if he notices that skin, lips, or fingernails are of a bluish color. Moreover, he can ask for Pulse oximetry, Arterial blood gas (ABG), and Pulmonary (lung) function tests.

what oxygen level is too low for a child; below 88%.
What oxygen level is too low for a child; below 88%.

Treatment equipment for the low levels of body oxygen.

Low oxygen saturation is a medical emergency and the only solution is to hospitalize the child and administer the following treatments.

  • Oxygen supply via nasal cannula or mask that covers the nose and mouth.
  • The inhaler can be used to ease the patient.
  • A doctor can suggest asthma medication.
  • steroids and antibiotics can be used if the reason is infection and inflammation behind low oxygen saturation.
  • In severe conditions oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber or mechanical ventilation can be used.


Although oxygen has no color taste, shape, or odor, it is very important for living organisms. It is very important to know what oxygen level is too low for a child. If the level of oxygen saturation is lower than 95% then it is abnormal but when it comes down from 88% then it is too low for a child.

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About The Author

Qurratulain Nabeel

This is QURRATULAIN - an M.Phil in Applied Psychology. Being a mother of two I tried to put my knowledge into practice, which proved very beneficial for me. By using the platform of I am so pleased to share my experience with people all around the world.

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