AEDs and Pediatric Cardiac Emergencies

AEDs and Pediatric Cardiac Emergencies

A Comprehensive Guide for Schools and Child-Centric Facilities

As a leading distributor of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) across North America, AED Advantage is committed to promoting life-saving practices and providing valuable information on AED usage. One of the commonly asked questions is whether AEDs can be safely used on infants and children during cardiac emergencies. In this comprehensive blog post, we will address this critical question and provide essential insights for schools and child-centric facilities. Understanding the unique considerations and guidelines for pediatric defibrillation is vital to ensure the safety and well-being of our young ones during cardiac emergencies.

Understanding Pediatric Cardiac Emergencies

Pediatric cardiac emergencies are distinct from adult cases and require special attention. While sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is less common in children than in adults, it can still occur due to various factors, including congenital heart conditions, respiratory distress, or trauma. Unlike adults, who may experience SCA primarily due to heart disease, children often face different challenges, making early recognition and immediate intervention all the more crucial.

Defibrillation in Pediatric Cases: Can AEDs be Used?

AEDs are invaluable life-saving devices designed to deliver electrical shocks to the heart in the event of sudden cardiac arrest. However, when it comes to treating infants and children, some important considerations come into play:

1. Pediatric-Specific AED Models

Many modern AEDs are equipped with pediatric settings or attenuated energy levels that are specifically designed for young patients. These AED models are programmed to deliver appropriate shocks tailored to the unique needs of pediatric patients, ensuring their safety and effectiveness.

2. Pediatric Electrode Pads

For effective treatment, it is essential to use pediatric electrode pads specifically designed for infants and children. These pads are appropriately sized to fit smaller chests and adhere properly to ensure optimal contact.

3. Shock Energy Levels

Adjusting the shock energy level is critical to ensure safe and effective treatment for pediatric patients. While adults may require higher energy levels, using the same for children can be harmful. Following manufacturer guidelines and healthcare provider recommendations is essential to provide the appropriate level of shock energy.

Safe Use of AEDs on Infants (Newborns to Age 1)

One common concern among caregivers and bystanders is whether it is safe to use an AED on newborns and infants. The answer is yes, but there are specific considerations to keep in mind. Infants have different chest sizes and require modified electrode pad placement to ensure the AED effectively delivers shocks. Pediatric AED pads or those with reduced energy levels designed for infants should be used. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the AED's pediatric mode settings, if available, to ensure proper energy delivery for the child's size and weight.

Using AEDs on Young Children (Ages 1 to 8)

For young children aged 1 to 8 years, using pediatric-specific AED pads is crucial for delivering the appropriate energy levels for their smaller bodies. Some AED models have pediatric mode settings that modify the energy output, ensuring it is suitable for children in this age group. Additionally, it is important to follow the prompts and voice instructions of the AED carefully, as they guide the rescuer through the entire process, from pad placement to shock delivery.

AED Use on Older Children and Preteens (Ages 9 to 12)

As children age, their body sizes and cardiac needs change. For older children and preteens aged 9 to 12 years, the use of pediatric-specific AED pads is still recommended to ensure proper energy delivery. However, some AEDs may have adult and pediatric pads that can be used interchangeably, making them suitable for a wider age range. Always check the AED's user manual and instructions to understand the appropriate pad size and settings for older children.

Can I Use an Adult AED if No Pediatric AED is Available?

In an emergency situation, if a pediatric-specific AED is not immediately available, it is better to use an adult AED than not use one at all. The American Heart Association recommends using an adult AED on children over the age of 8 if a pediatric AED is not accessible. If possible, follow the pediatric pad placement guidelines and reduce the energy level to the lowest setting available. Providing early defibrillation is critical, and using an adult AED is better than delaying treatment.

North American Statistics on Successful Use of AEDs in Children

There have been numerous success stories of AEDs saving the lives of children in sudden cardiac arrest. These life-saving devices have proven to be effective when used promptly and correctly in pediatric emergencies. The American Heart Association reports that the survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in children is approximately 2% to 24%. However, this rate significantly improves when bystanders use AEDs before emergency medical services arrive.

The Importance of Training and Preparedness

Although AEDs are incredibly user-friendly, proper training and preparedness are fundamental for schools and child-centric facilities to manage pediatric cardiac emergencies effectively:

1. CPR and AED Training

Teachers, staff, and caregivers should receive regular training in CPR and AED use, including pediatric-specific protocols. Confidence in these life-saving skills is essential in critical situations.

2. Emergency Response Plan

Developing a comprehensive emergency response plan is crucial for a coordinated and efficient response during pediatric cardiac emergencies. The plan should outline clear roles, responsibilities, and the steps to take in case of an emergency.

3. Conducting Mock Drills

Regularly conducting mock drills and simulations can enhance preparedness and confidence among staff members. These drills help ensure that everyone is familiar with the protocols and can respond effectively under pressure.

Ensuring Safety and Compliance

To ensure safe usage of AEDs on infants and children, schools and child-centric facilities should take the following steps:

Proper AED Placement

Strategically place AEDs in easily accessible locations to minimize response time during emergencies. Ensure that AEDs with pediatric capabilities are available in areas frequented by children.

Pediatric-Specific Accessories

Equip AEDs with pediatric-specific accessories, such as electrode pads and attenuated energy settings, to ensure safe and effective treatment for younger patients.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Adhere to local laws and guidelines regarding AED use and emergency preparedness. Compliance ensures that facilities are well-prepared and protected in case of any legal challenges.

Unique Considerations for Infant Defibrillation

Infant defibrillation requires even more specialized care due to the smaller size and delicate nature of infants. Consider the following additional factors:

Manual Defibrillation vs. AED

In some cases, manual defibrillation may be more appropriate for infants.

Expertise and Training

Administering defibrillation to infants warrants some training, although it is not required in order to use one. Medical professionals or individuals with advanced pediatric training should be the ones responsible for defibrillating infants unless none are available.

Supporting Ventilation

Ventilation support is essential during infant defibrillation to maintain oxygen supply to the child's body. Proper ventilation ensures the oxygenated blood reaches vital organs, supporting the effectiveness of the defibrillation process.


Knowing how to use AEDs on infants and children is crucial in improving their chances of survival during sudden cardiac arrests. While pediatric-specific AEDs and pads are recommended, using an adult AED when a pediatric AED is unavailable can still be life-saving. Proper training and understanding the AED's features and settings are essential for effective and safe usage. By being prepared and knowledgeable, you can contribute to the safety and well-being of children in your care or community. Remember, quick action with an AED can make all the difference in saving a child's life.

At AED Advantage, we are committed to providing reliable and life-saving solutions for all age groups, including infants and children. Our extensive range of AEDs includes models designed for pediatric use, ensuring the right energy levels and electrode pad sizes for younger patients. We offer user-friendly devices equipped with pediatric mode settings, making it easy for caregivers and bystanders to respond confidently in emergencies.

Not only do we provide top-quality AED units, but we also offer maintenance reminders to ensure your unit is in top working order. Our expert team is here to guide you in selecting the most suitable AED for your needs and to provide ongoing support with maintenance, replacement parts, and compliance with local regulations.

Your commitment to the safety and well-being of children is commendable, and we at AED Advantage are here to support you every step of the way. Together, we can create safer environments for children and be prepared to respond swiftly to cardiac emergencies. Don't hesitate to reach out to us and ensure you have the right AED solution to save lives, no matter the age.


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