AED Use on Children and Infants: A Lifesaving Guide

Using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on a child or infant during a sudden cardiac arrest can be a life-saving intervention. While AEDs are primarily designed for adults, some models have pediatric settings and specific child/infant pads. It's crucial to know how to use an AED correctly and adapt the process for younger patients. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps for using an AED on a child and infant.


How to use an AED on a Child and Infant?

Using an AED in children and infants is a critical step. It requires a lower level of energy to defibrillate the heart. Here's a step by step instructions on how to use an AED on a child and infant.


Step 1: Secure an AED

AEDs are available in most public offices and buildings. Once you have secured an AED, retrieve it from its case and turn on the device immediately. Every AED is programmed to give step-by-step audible instructions for its use.


Step 2: Keep the child's chest exposed

Wipe the child victim's chest dry if necessary. Peel off existing medication patches, if any.


Step 3: Place the pads onto the child or infant

Place one adhesive electrode pads on the child's upper right chest, above the breast, or the infant's upper left chest. Then place the second pad on the lower left chest below the armpit or the infant's back. If pads touch an infant's chest, apply one pad on the anterior chest and another on the posterior of the infant instead.


Step 4: Keep distance from the child or infant

After you attach the pads correctly, stop doing CPR and advise the crowd to keep a distance from the victim and don't touch them while the AED checks the heart rhythm.


Step 5: Allow the AED to analyze the heart rhythm

Follow the AED's verbal instructions. If the AED reads “Check Electrodes,” make sure the electrodes are in contact with each other. Stand clear of the cardiac arrest victim while the AED searches for a shockable rhythm. If the AED reads “Shock,” hold the flashing shock button until the defibrillation shock is released.


Step 6: Perform CPR for two minutes

Don't remove the chest pads. Start chest compressions and give rescue breaths again. You should be doing these at a rate of at least 100 to 120 compressions per minute. The AED will continue to check the baby's heart rhythm. If the child responds, stay with them. Keep the child comfortable and warm until help arrives.


Step 7: Repeat the cycle

If the child does not respond, continue CPR with the instructions from the AED. Do this until the heart of a child has normal rhythm or emergency medical services team arrives.

aed on a child and infant

What is an Automated External Defibrillator?

Automated External Defibrillators are portable lifesaving medical devices that can check a cardiac arrest victim’s heartbeat and deliver a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. Chances of survival from sudden cardiac death diminish by 10% for each minute without immediate CPR or external defibrillation. Some of the most common causes of sudden cardiac death in young people include Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge, which then causes the chest walls to thicken.

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Can you use AED on an infant?

AED devices are manufactured with adults in mind. However, rescuers can also use this lifesaving device on children and infants with suspected SCA if a manual defibrillator with a trained rescuer is not immediately available. AEDs have pediatric settings and defibrillator pads that can be adjusted, making them safe for infants and young children weighing less than 55 pounds. The American Heart Association recommends that pediatric electrode pads be used on children under eight and infants, while adult pads can be used for children eight years and older.

Safety of Using AEDs on a Child

It is essential to know that AEDs are safe for young children ages 8 years old and younger, and even infants. Providing adequate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and using an AED is the best way to treat a child or infant in sudden cardiac arrest. Without effective CPR and an AED to restart the heart, the child’s condition can be fatal within minutes. And since young children and infants have such small and delicate systems, getting their hearts restarted quickly is even more critical. This will restore the oxygenated blood flow around the body, supplying the brain and vital organ systems, limiting the damage to these systems.

aed on a child

Can you use adult AED pads on an infant?

Most AEDs come with both adult and pediatric electrode pads designed to be used on younger children. Child pads can be used on children under 8 years old or those weighing less than 55 pounds. Pediatric electrode pads give a lesser electric shock than adult pads will. Adult pads can be used on children above 8 or older or weighing more than 55 pounds. So, if pediatric pads are not available, a rescuer may use standard adult pads.

aed on a child and infant

How Common is Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Children and Infants?

Cardiac Arrest emergency is pretty uncommon in children. But, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, although it is unusual in children, it can affect anyone, even those who are physically healthy. Over 2,000 children and adolescents die yearly in the United States due to sudden cardiac arrest. SCA is also responsible for 10-15% of sudden unexpected infant deaths.

The 2015 AHA Heart and Stroke Statistics released by the American Heart Association found that 6,300 Americans under 18 experienced an EMS-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Sudden death can be prevented when CPR and AEDs are administered within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest.