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Are AEDS Safe to use on Children & Infants

Published on 16th January 2022

One of the wonderful things about AEDs is their safety and efficiency across multiple age groups – including children and infants. Here we take a look at some of the facts about using AEDs on children, along with some considerations you should make when using an AED on a young person or infant.

SCA can affect anybody – Even children

It’s important to start by emphasising the need for swift action whenever SCA occurs – no matter what age the patient may be. Sadly SCA can affect even young, apparently healthy infants, children and young people.

While sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is relatively uncommon among young people, with only 1.4% of all reported out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in 2021 occurring in individuals under 15, it is important to note that this still equates to an average of 3 young people per day. In 2021, a total of 95,153 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests were reported, underscoring the importance of continuing efforts to respond quickly with the appropriate measures to SCA in all age groups.

The unexpected nature of SCA in young people can catch those around them off guard – which is why easy access to defibrillators in schools, youth centres and other educational facilities is so important.

A child is classed as a person between the age of 1-8 – but SCA is also common in teenagers and young adults up to the age of 16. It’s not always possible to determine someone’s age just by looking at them – so it’s crucial to know when and how to act should SCA occur.

Swift action and confidence are key

It’s important to act quickly whenever SCA occurs – the sooner CPR and an AED can be administered, the higher the chances of survival will be. See more on the chain of survival here.

Sadly, many young people die from SCA because those present at the time are worried about using an AED on them or aren’t sure whether it is safe to do so. For this reason it’s important to is to raise awareness of using AEDs on adults, children and infants aiming to decrease hesitancy in using AEDs, and saving more lives as a result.

We’ve covered each age group below with specialist, simple-to-follow advice designed to inspire confident use of AEDs for best possible chance of survival.

Using AEDs on young people (ages 8 and above)

All AEDs come with a set of adult pads as standard – for young people over the age of 8, adult pads should be used. In the case of SCA in a young adult or teenager, be sure to deploy an AED in the usual way as quickly as possible. Remember that once the pads have been applied they will automatically determine whether a shock needs to be delivered.

Using AEDs on children (age 1-8)

For children under the age of 8 child AED pads should be used for best results – but these may not always be available. Child AED pads will most commonly be found in organisations that serve children – but if they aren’t available, you can still use adult AED pads on a child below the age of 8.

If using child AED pads apply them in the usual way and allow the machine to operate automatically. If using adult AED pads on a child, ensure the pads are not touching, placing one pad on the middle of the chest and the other in the middle of the back, between the shoulder blades.

Using AEDs on infants (below the age of 1)

When using an AED on very small children and babies it’s best to use a manual defibrillator. Manual defibrillators allow the user to set the shock delivery and should only be used by medical professionals like first responders, ambulance crews and doctors. If a manual defibrillator (and someone qualified to operate it) is not immediately available, it’s important to use an AED anyway, as this maximises chances of survival.

AEDs are safe to use on all – but fast action is key

AEDs are absolutely safe to use on children and infants – but with different age groups varying advice applies for optimal results.

The most important thing to remember when using an AED is that hesitancy can cost lives. Feeling confident and safe when using AEDs is incredibly important – so spreading awareness of how easy, simple and safe they are to use is crucial. Some key points to remember include:

*Call the emergency services as soon as you identify a person is in SCA, and state their age (if you don’t know their exact age, be sure to tell the call handler that the patient is an infant or child). A specialist ambulance may need to be sent and preparations can be made at a children’s hospital or appropriate hospital department.

*Whilst waiting for an AED, administer manual CPR straight away if you are able to do so. The emergency call handler can talk you through this process and offer support.

*Use an AED swiftly with confidence – it could save someone’s life. If you are unsure of a patient’s age and don’t have AED pads for children on hand, use adult AED pads instead.

*Once the AED pads are safely placed on the patient the machine automatically determines whether a shock is required.

For more on AED use and common FAQs on AEDs, get in touch with one of our team today on 01709 599 222.