By Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, July 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac arrest is rare in children. But a new study finds that if it does happen, kids are less likely to get life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they're black and living in a poor neighborhood.
In fact, these kids were much less likely to receive CPR from a bystander than white children living in any type of neighborhood, the research showed.
Children in other racial groups were also less likely to receive bystander CPR than white children, the study authors said.
Although cardiac arrest in children is far less common than in adults, each year about 7,000 children in the United States experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating properly.
Often, bystanders who know CPR techniques can rise to the rescue. Prior studies have tracked bystander CPR rates in adults, but the researchers said they believe this is the first study to focus on how race and class might affect CPR rates among children.
The team from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed data on nearly 7,100 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred in children between 2013 and 2017. Of those, 61% involved infants, 60% were boys, 31% were white kids, 31% were black kids, 10.5% were Hispanic kids and 3% were other races/ethnicities. Ethnicity was unknown in about one-quarter of the cases.
Overall, 48% of the children did receive bystander CPR. However, compared to whites, bystander CPR was 41% less likely for black kids; 22% less likely for Hispanic kids and 6% less likely among other ethnic groups.
And compared to white children, black children in majority black neighborhoods with high unemployment, low education and low median income were nearly half as likely to receive bystander CPR (nearly 60% versus 32%, respectively), the investigators found.
The study was published online July 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The findings suggest there's a crucial need for CPR training programs in poor, non-white, lower-education neighborhoods, said study lead researcher Dr. Maryam Naim. She is a pediatric cardiac intensive care physician at the hospital.
"As most bystander CPR is provided by family members, lower response rates are likely due to a lack of CPR training and recognition of cardiac arrests," she said in a journal news release.
Teaching CPR to parents before a newborn is released from the hospital, or during pediatrician visits, would be good opportunities for such training, Naim suggested.