Should Your Kid Learn CPR?

Kids understand CPR, even if they're too small to save adults, a new study says.

ByABC News
August 3, 2009, 1:47 PM

Aug. 3, 2009— -- Children as young as 9 can learn and retain the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, even though their physical strength may pose limits on their effectiveness, researchers found.

Fully 86 percent of children ages 9 to 18 performed CPR correctly, although the chest compressions and ventilation volumes those with lower BMI delivered were of limited effectiveness, Dr. Fritz Sterz, of the Medical University of Vienna, and colleagues reported online in Critical Care.

"Young age does not limit the learning of CPR cognitive skills," the researchers said. "But lack of physical strength may."

Whether kids have the physical and cognitive skills necessary to correctly perform the complex tasks involved in CPR has not been well studied.

So the researchers looked at data on 147 youths ages 9 to 18 in 11 schools in Austria who received six hours of CPR training from their teachers in 2006. Instruction was given using the old CPR recommendation of 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths.

The researchers found that although nearly nine out of 10 students performed CPR correctly, only 69 percent tilted the mannequin's head sufficiently for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Also, the median depth of chest compressions was 35 mm -- just shy of the bottom limit of 38 mm suggested for adults -- and the median number of compressions per minute was 129 bpm.

The researchers said that there was a significant relationship between the depth of chest compressions and BMI, weight, and height.

BMI of 15 or greater was associated with satisfactory chest compression.

Also, boys performed significantly deeper chest compressions than girls.

The median air volume delivered was 540 mL, and weight and BMI were significant factors in determining tidal volume delivered during mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"Age did not influence the depth of chest compressions or tidal volume of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, suggesting that children as young as 9 years old could effectively learn such critical skills," the researchers said.