Most of the training for doctors in war zones focuses on how to treat adults for blast injuries.
Medics are prepared to treat soldiers, and even civilian adults – but its children who are most likely to die if caught in a bomb blast, landmine or artillery strike.
Until now, there has been little in the way of specialist focus on how to treat children in conflict zones.
British doctors have now written and designed the first handbook, which will be made available to doctors in Syria and other war zones. The need for it is a shocking testimony to the failure of adults to protect children in conflict, one of the aid workers who launched it said.
James Denselow, head of the conflict and humanitarian team at Save the Children, said: Unfortunately with so many children living in conflict zones today its more needed than ever.
Paediatrician Dr Malik, medical manager at Syria Relief, said: For more than eight years weve seen children dying on the operating table from wounds that adults have survived. The tragedy is these deaths could have been prevented with basic training.
This manual is designed for anyone with a medical degree and a scalpel. Im excited this is going to doctors in Syria. Its a simple solution that will undoubtedly save lives.
Children are not adults in miniature as they suffer unique patterns of injury and research has shown they are disproportionately affected by explosive weapons, Save the Children said.
Major General Michael von Bertele, former director general of British Army Medical Services, said: We know childrens bodies are different. They arent just small adults. Their skulls are still not fully formed, and their undeveloped muscles offer less protection, so a blast is more likely to damage their brain and lungs or tear apart organs in their abdomen, even when theres no visible damage.
And when children suffer severe injuries to their legs and arms, it takes highly specialised knowledge to know where to amputate so that you can factor in future growth. Without that, children are left with even worse disabilities, and often intractable pain for life.
The handbook is built to withstand hostile environments, is readable when the light is poor and contains instructions on how to resuscitate children on the battlefield, save limbs and provide psychosocial rehabilitation.