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Release: May 23, 2001

UI involved in study on children and use of defibrillators

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care researcher contributed to a multicenter study that determined that automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) can be used to accurately detect different types of arrhythmias (irregular and inefficient heartbeats) in young children. In conjunction with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) product approval earlier this month, the finding means AEDs now can be used to treat children younger than 8 who need emergency care for certain types of life-threatening arryhthmias. An American Heart Association news release, which is available at http://www.americanheart.org/Whats_News/AHA_News_Releases/05-21-01_comment 1.html, details the study.

"With this study and the recent FDA approval of pediatric defibrillator pads for children under the age of 8, we can provide full resuscitation services to patients of all ages with modern, accurate technology," said Dianne Atkins, M.D., UI associate professor of pediatrics and a senior author of the paper that appears in the May 22 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Automatic external defibrillators have been approved for adult use for a number of years. The devices commonly are found in large public buildings, police cars and airports. An AED analyzes a person's abnormal heartbeat to determine the need for a shock, which can normalize the heartbeat. Certain types of arrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation, are "shockable," while other arrhythmias are not. Previously, it was not known whether AEDs could accurately analyze children's abnormal heart rhythms, which can differ from those of adults. In addition, adult-sized defibrillator pads deliver too much electric shock for young children, so pediatric pads needed to be developed.