Can you use a defibrillator/AED on a baby?

Defibrillator Pads for Children

A common question on our First Aid courses across the North East is whether you can use a defibrillator/AED on a baby.

Shockable heart rhythms requiring defibrillation in children are more rare than in adults. However, they can occur. Therefore, the priority will always be to recognise the need for CPR, to provide high quality CPR and to get expert help – fast.

Most people are aware that an AED can be used on a child – in First Aid terms (specifically referring to the use of an AED) that’s someone aged between one and eight years old. Ideally, paediatric/child pads should be used, which reduce the amount of energy to around 50-75 joules.

According to the Resuscitation Council (UK), although there is limited evidence of using defibrillators on infants/babies under the age of one, they advise that an AED can be used across all age groups if it is the only machine available.

The Resuscitation Council (UK) go on to outline, ‘Experience with the use of AEDs (preferably with dose attenuator – paediatric pads) in children younger than one year is limited. The use of an AED is acceptable if no other option is available as, on balance, it is probably better to give a 50 J shock than nothing at all. The upper safe limit for dosage in this group is unknown.’

Defibrillators come with spoken instructions and diagrams to guide users where to place the pads and how to deliver shocks. Pad placement is different on infants and children to placement on adults, so it’s important to follow the instructions or let us know if you’re unsure. After all, it’s much better to have a go in a training environment than try to do it for the first time during a real emergency.

It’s worth remembering that where a defibrillator is used within 4 minutes of cardiac arrest, a person has around a 70% chance of survival, whereas if one isn’t used, the chance of survival is reduced to around only 5%. Everyone gets to have a practice with an AED on all of our First Aid courses in Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland and beyond.

Thinking about getting an AED? Check out our Complete Buyers Guide to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). As always, if you have any questions, just get in touch.