The Academy will release its policy statement encouraging CPR training and AED installations during National Emergency Medical Services Week
Cardiac arrest kills more than 7,000 children outside the hospital setting every year, and some of these deaths could be prevented by bystanders with training in basic life-saving skills or access to an automated external defibrillator.
The American Academy of Pediatrics describes how physicians and the public can help boost the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims in a policy statement, "Advocating for Life Support Training of Children, Parents, Caregivers, School Personnel and the Public." The statement, along with a technical report by the same name, will be published in the June 2018 issue of Pediatrics.
More than 345,000 adults a year also die from cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions because of a structural, functional or electrical disorder, and may be caused by a genetic disposition.
"There are precious few minutes to waste when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, and it's especially tragic when children are affected," said Susan M. Fuchs, MD, FAAP, lead author of the technical report.
"We know that by empowering people with information and the right equipment, that bystanders are more likely to take quick action."
The AAP recommends that pediatricians hone their own skills and stay up to date on CPR and life-support skills. The academy also recommends:
Supporting age-appropriate life support training for children as part of the school curriculum in schools, beginning in the primary grades.
Providing life support training to all school personnel, parents, caregivers and the public.
Placing an automated external defibrillator (AED) for adults and children in every school in the community and near every school athletic facility - and training staff and children on how to use them;
Advocating for funding and legislation to promote the training.
"Children can be taught from a young age how to call for help, how to perform CPR and even how to operate an AED," said James M. Callahan, MD, FAAP, the policy statement's co-author. "The more comfortable we can make people with these life-saving techniques the more likely people who need them will receive them and the better chance that we see good outcomes."
The AAP, which endorses the CPR guidelines provided by the American Heart Association, will publish the policy statement in conjunction with the national Emergency Medical Services Week from May 20-26. Pediatric services are highlighted on EMS for Children Day Wednesday, May 23.
Sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes occurs in approximately 1 in 70 schools per year, according to research. While more than 30 states require CPR training as a prerequisite for high school graduation, funding remains an obstacle for expanding implementation of CPR training in all schools and installing AEDs.
"Pediatricians, in their role as advocates to improve the health of all children, can make a difference by encouraging parents, caregivers and their children to take courses in CPR and use of the AED," Dr. Fuchs said. "Ideally, everyone would have access to the training that we know can save lives."
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: