PARENTS have been warned of a deadly choking game sweeping the web in which children 'strangle' themselves to restrict the flow of blood to the brain.
It comes after a boy was admitted to Temple Street Hospital in Dublin as a result of playing the game.
A teenager, who ended up on life support after the game went horribly wrong, was in a stable condition in the hospital last night.
The boy is unconscious but in a stable condition, having been released from the Intensive Care Unit on Tuesday.
The dangerous game is known by a variety of names from 'funky chicken' to 'space monkey'.
It involves hyperventilating or squeezing the carotid artery in the neck for a few seconds to achieve a high. Constricting the artery in this way cuts blood flow to the brain.
Releasing the pressure leads to a sudden rush of oxygen to the brain, giving a feeling of euphoria.
But the practice can cause brain damage, loss of consciousness and even death.
A spokesperson from Temple Street Hospital confirmed the youngster had been discharged from intensive care but remained in a "stable" condition.
"Without mentioning the specifics of this case, generally speaking it involves two friends assisting each other to do this."
Dr Kevin Carson, from Temple Street Children's Hospital, added: "It is a very dangerous activity that can have varying effects on the brain because the brain is starved of oxygen for a while and people have had loss of attention spans, short-term memory loss and seizures.
"Other children will actually end up dying and others will become severely handicapped with severe brain injury."
The craze is spreading on the internet largely without the knowledge of adults.
Experts say it is most prevalent among high-achieving adolescents who do not want to get in trouble by taking drugs or drink.
"Teenagers don't realise it is so dangerous and that they can slip into a coma immediately," said Barbara O'Connell, CEO of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland.
"This activity can also result in long-term memory difficulties, depression, and change their personality.
"It can also impact on a young person's ability to learn because memory may not be working properly. After five minutes the cells start to seriously die and in a worst-case scenario it could leave someone in a vegetative state."
The National Parents Council said it was aware of the activity and was monitoring the situation.
"It's on social network sites and parents need to be very careful and aware of what their children are looking at," said Jackie O'Callaghan.
"This activity has come to our attention and it's very disturbing and incredibly dangerous."
By Mark O'Regan and Conor Feehan