| 7.5°C Dublin

Children (11) play choking 'game'

CHILDREN as young as 11 are engaging in the so-called choking game that almost cost one boy his life, brain injury experts have warned.

The game, known as Space Monkey, involves starving the brain of oxygen to get a high.

A teenager who ended up on life support after the game went wrong was in a stable condition in Temple Street Children's Hospital last night.

Barbara O'Connell, the CEO of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, said the game can cause anoxic brain injury.

"When oxygen levels are significantly low for four minutes or longer, brain cells begin to die, and after five minutes permanent anoxic brain injury can occur," she said. "This is life-threatening. Lack of oxygen doesn't always result in a coma, yet it can result in a mild brain injury."

The craze is thought to have started in the US and spread via YouTube.

Experts say that the long term difficulties associated with the game going wrong include memory loss, lack of concentration and difficulty in processing words or carrying out simple tasks.

Ms O'Connell's warnings follow similar advice from Dr Kevin Carson of Temple Street Children's Hospital.

He said: "It's a very dangerous activity that can have varying effects on the brain because it is starved of oxygen for a while. People have had loss of attention, short-term memory loss and seizures.

"Other children will actually end up dying and others will become severely handicapped with severe brain injury."