New CPR recommendations don't apply to children

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News

The American Heart Association has revised the recommended procedure for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) - but only for adults. Experts now say that for an adult, you can skip the mouth-to-mouth part of the standard CPR procedure and concentrate only on the chest compressions. The hands-only method is simple - call 911 and then begin administering hard and fast compressions in the center of the chest until a medical professional takes over or a defibrillator can be used to restore the heart rhythm. This should be done only for adults who collapse unexpectedly, stop breathing and are unresponsive.

The reasoning behind the change is that in most cases, an adult will be experiencing cardiac arrest. When the heart suddenly stops, there is still air in the lungs and blood and the compressions will keep the blood moving to the brain, heart and other organs.

For children, however, the cause of a sudden collapse is more likely to be related to breathing problems. Therefore, mouth-to-mouth breathing is vital to get air into their lungs and bloodstream. This is also true for adults who are clearly suffering from lack of oxygen due to drowning, drug overdose or carbon monoxide poisoning.

While the new recommendations may be based on solid evidence that chest compressions alone work best for adults experiencing cardiac arrest, there is another reason to do away with the mouth-to-mouth part. Anonymous surveys have found that many people are reluctant to get that personal with a stranger, partly due to fear of infections.

"When people are honest, they're not going to do it," says Dr. Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine professor at Ohio State University. "It's not only the yuck factor."

Learn more about CPR and heart health for kids from the American Heart Association.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.