Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a series of steps to help a person who is not responding and has stopped breathing. CPR helps deliver oxygen rich blood to the body tissue when the body is not able to do this on its own.
CPR is given to a child who is not breathing. Reasons for this may include:
The outcome will depend on the cause and how soon effective CPR was initiated. Many are unable to regain a normal heartbeat after it has stopped.
It is possible that ribs will fracture or break during chest compressions. Other complications, like a puncture of a lung, are also possible.
People with weakened bones have a higher risk of fractures from CPR. However, there is greater risk of death if CPR is delayed or not done correctly.
When you see a child suddenly collapse, or find a child unconscious on the ground, immediately check to see if they are responsive. Tap the child and ask: “Are you OK?” If the child is unresponsive, follow these steps:
The length of time for CPR depends on the underlying causes and response time of medical help.
The child is unconscious when CPR is given. The procedure does not hurt. Some children may complain of soreness in the chest after regaining consciousness.
The emergency team will take over care when they arrive.
Children will need to be taken to the hospital for evaluation following CPR.
If a child is unresponsive and someone is with you, have that person call for emergency medical services right away. If you are alone, do CPR for about 2 minutes before calling for medical help.
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
2005 American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) of pediatric and neonatal patients: pediatric basic life support. Pediatrics. 2006;117(5):e989-e1004.
Bardy, G.H. A critic's assessment of our approach to cardiac arrest. New Engl J of Med. 2011;364(4):374-375.
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Heartsaver pediatric first aid CPR AED. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/CorporateTraining/HeartsaverCourses/Heartsaver-Pediatric-First-Aid-CPR-AED_UCM_303745_Article.jsp. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Part 1: executive summary: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/122/18_suppl_3/S640.full. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S640-S656.
Topjian AA, Berg RA, et al. Pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation: advances in science, techniques, and outcomes. Pediatrics. 2008;122(5):1086-1098.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014