A child’s heart rate, or pulse, reflects the number of times his heart beats in one minute. The normal range varies depending upon the age of the child, and a fast heart rate may indicate a health problem.
According to Medline Plus, newborns typically have 100 to 160 beats a minute. Children from 1 to 10 years should have a pulse of 70 to 120, and those over 10 years range between 60 and 100.
A fast heart rate, known as tachycardia, initially allows the heart to deliver extra oxygenated blood to body tissues. For example, the child’s heart may speed up to compensate for a respiratory infection that interferes with oxygen absorption.
A rapid heart rate may be triggered by fever, infection, stress, trauma, prescription medication, illegal drugs and a host of other factors. Tachycardia can also be a sign of underlying heart disease or an irregular heart beat known as arrhythmia.
Your child’s doctor will examine your child and consider her other symptoms to determine the cause of the rapid heart rate.
If your child is running a fever and has only minor symptoms of illness, you can lower her heart rate by encouraging oral fluids and giving medicine to bring down his temperature.