Can you use an AED on an infant?

Automated external defibrillators, often referred to simply as AEDs, were previously only approved for use in adults and young children over the age of 8 years old, and who weighed more than 25 kgs. However, a number of manufacturers of AEDs have altered the adult AED equipment in order to include pads and paediatric cables. These cut down the amount of energy that is delivered by the AED from 70 to 50 joules, and thus make it viable for use in youngsters below the age of 8.

AED use in paediatric patients

If an AED needs to be used on a patient who is a child, it is highly advisable that, where possible, an adult AED that has the paediatric equipment – such as cables and pads – be made use of, in order to ensure the child is given a more appropriate level of energy from the AED.

However, in the event that such a system is unavailable in an emergency, and a child between the ages of 1 and 8 years old has had a cardiac arrest, it is still better to make use of the adult AED than to do nothing at all. If you are the only person on the scene of the emergency, you should perform CPR on the child for a total of one minute, before starting to attach the AED and then commencing the standard procedure. If the child has any sign of circulation, including a pulse, then you should not use the AED on them.

AED use and infants

AEDs should not be used on infants that are less than 1 year old. If you do not have an AED with variable energy levels available for use, then an ALS unit should be contacted, and CPR performed until that unit is able to get to the scene. Although it is possible to use an adult AED on an infant who is in cardiac arrest and over the age of 1 year old, it is inadvisable. The preferred option is always to make use of a manual defibrillator that is able to set considerably lower energy levels for children under the age of 8 years old.

AEDs are designed for use by members of the general public in emergency situations, as according to the British Heart Foundation the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest fall by 14 percent with every minute without defibrillation.