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Using an AED on Infants – New AHA Guidelines

According to the 2010 Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, the use of an AED in infant patients is now a class IIb recommendation.  This new information has been reviewed in Circulation as well as the Highlights publication put out by the American Heart Association.

One area you will not find this information is in the new Heartsaver materials.  The AHA has not included this recommendation in the lay rescuer course materials including the manuals and course videos.  Many instructors have asked why this topic has been omitted after so much discussion during the guidelines release.

Remember, guidelines do not necessarily make a distinction between Healthcare Provider CPR and Heartsaver CPR.  The AHA has separated the courses into two different curriculums to meet the needs of the healthcare providers and the community lay rescuers.

Because use of an AED in infants is a class IIb recommendation, meaning the benefit may be greater than or equal to the risk and they recommend additional studies, the AHA has adopted the guidelines but has been very clear that a “more advanced defibrillator” is preferred over AED for use in infants.  The AHA has also noted that cardiac arrest in infants most often caused by respiratory problems and as such AED use is less likely to be effective than it is in adults. Since the decision of which device should be used is best left up to advanced providers, the only classes that address this new guideline are ACLS, PALS, and Healthcare Provider CPR.

Instructors are encouraged to teach the current AHA curriculum and not deviate from the content outlined in the instructor lesson maps.  Heartsaver courses are designed to provide the most basic content in the fewest amount of steps possible to ensure students leave with the skills and confidence necessary to perform when it matters most.

For more information on AED use in infants and pediatric patients visit the American Heart Association website and download the 2010 Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.


2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC – Part 6: Electrical Therapies, Pages S710-S711

Highlights of the 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC – Pediatric BLS, Pages 19-20

CPR FAQ’s – Questions a Student Might Ask

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