Children who have cardiac arrests are more likely to survive if emergency dispatchers talk bystanders through the steps of CPR, according to a new study.

The study found that a month after cardiac arrest, survival with good brain function increased 81 percent for children who received dispatcher-guided CPR, and 68 percent for children who received non-dispatcher CPR when compared to those who received no bystander CPR.

In the three-year study, researchers analyzed 5,009 infants to 18-year-olds who received CPR. The children were divided into three groups: 2,019 received bystander CPR with dispatcher instruction; 703 received bystander CPR without dispatcher instruction; and 2,287 didn’t receive bystander CPR.

“It is very important for parents, teachers and other adults who deal with children to learn how to deliver CPR to children,” said Yoshikazu Goto, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead author and director of the section of Emergency Medicine at Kanazawa University Hospital and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Kanazawa University School of Medicine in in Kanazawa, Japan. “Expectant mothers should learn how to perform bystander CPR before they give birth.”

The most important signs that a child may be having a cardiac arrest are abnormal or irregular breathing and loss of consciousness or responsiveness, researchers said.

Bystanders need to initiate CPR urgently until the child’s heartbeat or breathing returns or until emergency medical help arrives. Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if blood flow from the heart stops.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also confirmed that conventional CPR is preferred to chest compression-only CPR in children.

The 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC recommend CPR with a combination of breaths and compressions for infants (up to age 1) and children (up to puberty).

Children under age 1 are at risk of cardiac arrest from respiratory problems, and older children, from cardiac causes. In children under 10, risk may be due to respiratory failure, trauma or external causes, researchers said.

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