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Children can be taught resuscitation

Monday August 3rd, 2009

Researchers have found that children as young as nine years old can "successfully and effectively" learn basic life support skills.

The research involved 147 children, average age 13 years, who were given six hours of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training by their teachers at school.

Four months later they were tested on CPR effectiveness, accuracy in checking vital signs, recovery position accuracy, and effective use of the ambulance service.

Dr Fritz Sterz of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues publish the results in the journal Critical Care.

They write: "The usefulness of CPR training in schools has been questioned because young students may not have the physical and cognitive skills needed to correctly perform such complex tasks."

However, 86 per cent of the children did perform CPR correctly. Sixty nine per cent were effective at mouth to mouth resuscitation, and scores on other life supporting techniques were 80 per cent or above.

Only the depth of chest compressions was linked to the child's physical size, all other outcomes were unrelated to gender, age, or body mass index.

The researchers write: "As in adults, physical strength may limit depth of chest compressions and ventilation volumes but skill retention is good."

They conclude: "Given the excellent performance by the students evaluated in this study, the data support the concept that CPR training can be taught and learnt by school children and that CPR education can be implemented effectively in primary schools at all levels.

"Even if physical strength may limit CPR effectiveness, cognitive skills are not dependent on age, and with periodic retraining, children's performance would likely improve over time."

Fleischhackl, R. et al. School children sufficiently apply life supporting first aid: A prospective investigation. Critical Care (in press)

Tags: A&E | Child Health | Europe | General Health

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