Cardiorespiratory arrest in children is very different from arrests in adults. In the latter, the main cause is primarily cardiac in origin though in the paediatric population this is not the case. Moreover the nature of causes of cardiorepiratory arrest in children is such that early recogntion and treatment of the predisposing cause is important and will prevent an arrest occuring.
The commonest cause of arrest in children is due to respiratory failure. This may result from a variety of causes which vary according to age. At birth, asphyxia may occur, whilst in infancy, respiratory illness such as croup, bronchiolitis and pneumonia occur more frequently. Foreign body inhalation, asthma and trauma or pneumothorax are also important causes of respiratory insult. Respiratory depression may also result from epilepsy, raised intracranial pressure, neuromuscular problems or poisoning. The second commonest cause for arrest is due to circulatory failure caused by fluid loss, bleeding or sepsis.
Sudden infant death syndrome should also be considered as a cause for cardiorespiratory arrest, though as yet the mechanism by which this occurs is unknown.
This section first discusses paediatric basic life support then outlines the advanced management of arrythmias in childhood and infancy.
Last reviewed 01/2018