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Alternative Names Return to topRescue breathing and chest compressions - infant; Resuscitation - cardiopulmonary - infant; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation - infant
Definition Return to top
CPR is a lifesaving procedure that is performed when an infant's breathing or heartbeat has stopped, as in cases of drowning, suffocation, choking, or injuries. CPR is a combination of:
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if an infant's blood flow stops. Therefore, you must continue these procedures until the infant's heartbeat and breathing return, or trained medical help arrives.
Considerations Return to top
CPR can be lifesaving, but it is best performed by those who have been trained in an accredited CPR course. The procedures described here are not a substitute for CPR training.
All parents and those who take care of children should learn infant and child CPR if they haven't already. This jewel of knowledge is something no parent should be without. (See www.americanheart.org for classes near you.)
Time is very important when dealing with an unconscious infant who is not breathing. Permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen, and death can occur as soon as 4 - 6 minutes later.
Causes Return to top
In infants, major reasons that heartbeat and breathing stop include:
Symptoms Return to top
First Aid Return to top
The following steps are based on instructions from the American Heart Association.
If the infant starts breathing again, place him or her in the recovery position. Periodically re-check for breathing until help arrives.
DO NOT Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Prevention Return to top
Unlike adults, who often require CPR because of a heart attack, most children need CPR because of a preventable accident.
Never underestimate what an infant can do. Play it safe and assume the child is more mobile and more dexterous than you thought possible. Never leave an infant unattended on a bed, table, or other surface from which the infant could roll. Always use safety straps on high chairs and strollers. Never leave an infant in a mesh playpen with one side down. Follow the guidelines for using infant car seats.
Start teaching your infant the meaning of "Don't touch." The earliest safety lesson is "No!"
Choose age-appropriate toys. Do not give infants toys that are heavy or fragile. Inspect toys for small or loose parts, sharp edges, points, loose batteries, and other hazards.
Create a safe environment and supervise children carefully, particularly around water and near furniture. Keep toxic chemicals and cleaning solutions safely stored in childproof cabinets. Dangers such as electrical outlets, stove tops, and medicine cabinets are attractive to infants and small children.
To reduce the risk of choking accidents, make sure infants and small children cannot reach buttons, watch batteries, popcorn, coins, grapes, or nuts. It is also important to sit with an infant while he or she eats. Do not allow an infant to crawl around while eating or drinking from a bottle.
Never tie pacifiers, jewelry, chains, bracelets, or anything else around an infant's neck or wrists.
References Return to top
Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee, Subcommittees, and Task Forces of the American Heart Association. 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2005;112(24 Suppl):IV1-203.Update Date: 10/6/2008 Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, Clinic. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.