New book helps teach parents the basics of performing CPR on babies and children

A new, free book is aiming to help educate new parents – on the basics of performing CPR on babies and children.

The short story comes as over a third of parents, with children up to the age of six, admit they would not feel comfortable enough to successfully perform CPR on their youngsters.

And almost half (46%), of the 1,000 parents and caregivers polled, claim they would not know where to find resources that help advise them on what to do if their child was choking on a small object.

Consequently, 89% would welcome more information and guidance on baby and child CPR.

The new book, entitled Aaron's Heart, tells the story of baby Aaron, his mother Maya – and what happened when he went into cardiac arrest.

The informational resource, produced by Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) has been supported by parents Dan and Vicky Swales, both 37 – who lost their newborn son, Noah, at just three days old, despite Dan performing CPR on him.

Noah had contracted bacterial meningitis, which doctors had failed to detect during routine blood samples.

Dan and Vicky noticed their son was unwell after a family trip, when he refused to eat and began turning blue, and they rushed to the nearest hospital.

But, on the way, they noticed Noah wasn’t breathing, and pulled over in a supermarket car park to start performing CPR.

RAF medic Dan, from Halesowen, near Birmingham, said: “I stopped the car and started performing CPR on Noah in the front seat until the ambulance arrived. He was unresponsive.

“I’ve had to do CPR on children before as part of my job, but this was personal – he was my special boy.”

A carer from the local retirement home came out to assist, with an ambulance arriving shortly after – but despite their best efforts, Noah passed away in his mother’s arms several hours later.

In tribute to Noah, a defibrillator was installed at the care home, along with a dedicated plaque in his memory – and Dan and Vicky have raised more than £35,000 for charity since Noah’s tragic passing in 2017.

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Dan, who is based at RAF Guisborough, added: “It’s so important that everyone knows how to correctly perform CPR on people of all ages, as it varies vastly between an adult, child, and a baby.

“One way we can continue to remember Noah is through raising money for charity, and raising awareness of baby CPR.”

Pippa Jones, aged 53, from Bath, also had to administer CPR to save her 11-month-old son Luke after he fell in the bath – and said her boy would not be alive had she not known the lifesaving technique.

She said: “It was one of the scariest moments in my life. Your brain goes into panic, and you feel like the world is crumbling down around you.

“I am so lucky to have known how to deliver CPR to different ages, as I know it’s something some parents lack knowledge of.

“I now have a healthy 26-year-old son. Baby CPR was crucial to that, and it is something I am so grateful for learning, and hope everyone has the opportunity to do the same. I know for an absolute fact, Luke would be dead if I hadn't known CPR.”

James Cant, CEO at RCUK, added: “Cardiac arrest in babies and children is not common – however, it can happen, for example through drowning, or swallowing a small item like a button battery.

“So, it’s still crucial for parents, caregivers, and anyone who interacts with children, to know what to do in an emergency, and help save a child’s life.”

The survey also found that just 15% feel they would know if their child was in cardiac arrest.

And there was widespread confusion as to how often a defibrillator is needed for kids – ranging from 23% saying often, to 9% saying always, while only 4% said never. However, using a defibrillator for children is rarely needed.

Cardiac arrest in children will usually be as a result of a severe medical illness, such as sepsis or asthma, and less often as a result of injury, trauma, or an accident – for example, ingesting a button battery leading to choking, or drowning and burns.

When it came to their child’s safety, 62% worried the most about knowing what to do if their child was in a life-threatening emergency and unresponsive – more so than what they watch and listen to (46%).

However, just 27% are confident in being able to recognise when they would need to get medical advice if their child is sick – and only 34% of parents have warned their child about the dangers of drowning.

James Cant added: “The book not only teaches you how to react in the first few critical moments of cardiac arrest in a baby or child, but also deals with information to reduce the risks of accidents, injuries, and trauma in children, which are the most common cause of a cardiac arrest.

“You’ll also discover what to do if you suspect a child is seriously unwell, and what the signs of cardiac arrest in children are.

“We’ve made this book free, so that as many parents and caregivers as possible have the confidence to know what to do in an emergency. You can request a copy here.”

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