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Tracheostomy is more hazardous in children than in adults, and carries special risks in the very young. The past 20 years have seen a large shift in the age distribution of tracheostomy. Whereas formerly the operation was done largely for management of epiglottitis and laryngotracheobronchitis, today the prime indication is subglottic stenosis in infants consequent upon intubation for respiratory distress syndrome and prematurity. We have reviewed experience with 57 tracheostomies in 56 children under 12 years old managed from a university hospital. All operations were done as elective procedures, in standard fashion, by otolaryngologists. Forty (70%) were in children under 1 year old, the indications being upper airways obstruction (41), failed extubation (11), and long-term assisted ventilation (5). Subglottic stenosis was the commonest cause of obstruction (21 operations). In 91.4 accumulated years with a tracheostomy there were 11 complications related to tracheostomy, one of which (a blocked tube) was fatal. Thirty-nine children were decannulated, the mean duration of cannulation being 21 months. In this series we suggest that the low morbidity and mortality rates were due to management by otolaryngologists; to postoperative intensive care; and, for the majority cared for at home, to careful education of parents and visits by specialist nurses.