CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This may happen after drowning, suffocation, choking, or injuries. CPR involves:
This article discusses CPR in children ages 1 - 8.
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if a child's blood flow stops. Therefore, you must continue CPR until the child's heartbeat and breathing return, or trained medical help arrives.
CPR can be lifesaving, but it is best done by someone trained in an accredited CPR course. The newest techniques emphasize compression over rescue breathing and airway, reversing long-standing practice.
The procedures described in this article are not a substitute for CPR training.
All parents and those who take care of children should learn infant and child CPR if they haven't already. See www.heart.org for classes near you.
Time is very important when dealing with an unconscious child who is not breathing. Permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen, and death can occur as soon as 4 - 6 minutes later.
Machines called automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can be found in many public places, and are available for home use. These machines have pads or paddles to place on the chest during a life-threatening emergency. They use computers to automatically check the heart rhythm and give a sudden shock if, and only if, that shock is needed to get the heart back into the right rhythm.
When using an AED, follow the instructions exactly.
There are many things that cause a child's heartbeat and breathing to stop. Some reasons you may need to do CPR on a child include:
CPR should be done if the child has the following symptoms:
The following steps are based on instructions from the American Heart Association.
If the child starts breathing again, place him or her in the recovery position. Periodically recheck for breathing until help arrives.
Most children need CPR because of a preventable accident. The following tips may help prevent some accidents in children:
Never underestimate what a child can do. Assume the child can move and pick up things more than you think. Think about what the child may get into next, and be ready. Climbing and squirming are to be expected. Always use safety straps on high chairs and strollers.
Choose age-appropriate toys. Do not give small children toys that are heavy or fragile. Inspect toys for small or loose parts, sharp edges, points, loose batteries, and other hazards. Keep toxic chemicals and cleaning solutions safely stored in childproof cabinets.
Create a safe environment and supervise children carefully, particularly around water and near furniture. Electrical outlets, stove tops, and medicine cabinets can be dangerous for small children.
Rescue breathing and chest compressions - child; Resuscitation - cardiopulmonary - child; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation - child
Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee, Subcommittees, and Task Forces of the American Heart Association. 2005 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2005;112:IV1-IV203.
Hazinski MF, Samson R, Schexnayder S. 2010 Handbook of Emergency Cardiovascular Care for Healthcare Providers. American Heart Association; 2010.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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