Out-of-hospital pediatric cardiac arrest: an epidemiologic review and assessment of current knowledge

Ann Emerg Med. 2005 Dec;46(6):512-22. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2005.05.028. Epub 2005 Aug 8.


Study objective: We systematically summarize pediatric out-of-hospital cardiac arrest epidemiology and assess knowledge of effects of specific out-of-hospital interventions.

Methods: We conducted a comprehensive review of published articles from 1966 to 2004, available through MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EmBase, and the Cochrane Registry, describing outcomes of children younger than 18 years with an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Patient characteristics, process of care, and outcomes were compared using pediatric Utstein outcome report guidelines. Effects of out-of-hospital care processes on survival outcomes were summarized.

Results: Forty-one studies met inclusion criteria; 8 complied with Utstein reporting guidelines. Included in the review were 5,363 patients: 12.1% survived to hospital discharge, and 4% survived neurologically intact. Trauma patients (n=2,299) had greater overall survival (21.9%, 6.8% intact); a separate examination of studies with more rigorous cardiac arrest definition showed poorer survival (1.1% overall, 0.3% neurologically intact). Submersion injury-associated arrests (n=442) had greater overall survival (22.7%, 6% intact). Pooled data analysis of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation and witnessed arrest status showed increased likelihood of survival (relative risk 1.99, 95% confidence interval 1.54 to 2.57) for witnessed arrests. The effect of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation is difficult to determine because of study heterogeneity.

Conclusion: Outcomes from out-of-hospital pediatric cardiac arrest are generally poor. Variability may exist in survival by patient subgroups, but differences are hard to accurately characterize. Conformity with Utstein guidelines for reporting and research design is incomplete. Witnessed arrest status remains associated with improved survival. The need for prospective controlled trials remains a high priority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / statistics & numerical data
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Heart Arrest / epidemiology*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Near Drowning / epidemiology
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sudden Infant Death / epidemiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology