July 30, 2009

Kids capable of CPR, study finds

Nine-year-old children can and should learn how to perform CPR, a study of 147 Austrian schoolchildren indicates.

After a four-month study of children who received six hours of life-support training, Fritz Sterz of the Medical University of Vienna found 86 percent performed CPR correctly, the university said in a news release Thursday.

The usefulness of CPR training in schools has been questioned since young students may not have the physical and cognitive skills needed to perform such complex tasks correctly, Sterz said We found that, in fact, students as young as 9 years are able to successfully and effectively learn basic life-support skills.

The researchers' observations noted that physical strength may limit robust chest compression and ventilation in children as in adults, Sterz said.

Skills children learned included automatic defibrillator deployment, providing CPR, using the recovery position and calling for emergency services, the university said.

Given the excellent performance by the students evaluated in this study, the data support the concept that CPR training can be taught and learned by school children and that CPR education can be implemented effectively in primary schools at all levels, researchers said. Even if physical strength may limit CPR effectiveness, cognitive skills are not dependent on age, and with periodic retraining, children's performance would likely improve over time.