Our team finds success with ABBA

Peter Davis
Prof Peter Davis: keeping in tune with ABBA
14 March 2014 | Pregnancy and newborns | Research and clinical trials

How do you teach a new doctor or nurse to give CPR to newborns? How can health professionals in an emergency situation keep to a steady rhythm when re-starting a baby’s heart and breathing?

In a paper just published in the international Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Women’s Newborn Research Centre has shown that using the ABBA song "SOS" can help people giving CPR to newborns keep the correct pace of chest compressions and lung inflations (mouth-to-mouth breaths).

In 2011, the British Heart Foundation produced an educational video that teaches using the beat from the Bee Gee’s song "Stayin’ Alive" to help give a steady and correct pace of chest compression and lung inflation per minute during CPR for adults.

Babies though need much faster chest compressions and lung inflations than adults. And giving 90 chest compressions per minute and 30 inflations per minute requires a high level of coordination. The study found that when doctors and nurses kept to the beat of the song SOS, they delivered the best rate of chest compressions and lung inflations.

The trial involved 30 highly experienced staff from the Women’s Newborn Intensive and Special Care unit taking turns to do CPR on a baby manikin while five different songs played in the background. In total, the group performed more than 21,000 chest compressions and more than 6,500 inflations while data on gas flow, airway pressure and volume and chest compression rates were gathered.

The idea behind the study, says Professor Peter Davis director of the Women’s Newborn Research Centre (pictured), is to “use the song playing in your head” to stay focused and to keep to the correct rate of compressions and inflations.

"Resuscitation of newborn babies is a stressful experience and it’s easy for doctors and nurses to lose their rhythm when trying to give CPR. "SOS" helps us correctly pace and coordinate the breaths and cardiac massage we give to babies resulting in more efficient, hopefully lifesaving resuscitation."

While the results are designed for health professionals giving CPR in tandem, Professor Davis says that there would be no harm in any carer using the beat of the song to keep a steady rhythm when giving CPR to babies.

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