Stanford launches a new Pediatric Apple Watch Study to help detect arrhythmia in children

heart rate on Apple Watch

Stanford University has a long history of conducting research with Apple, and this year is no exception.  In a recent update, Stanford announced a new diagnostic research study investigating if the Apple Watch helps healthcare teams identify arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat in children and young adults ages 6-21.

The new study entitled “Leveraging Wearable Technologies for Arrhythmia Detection in Children – The PAW (Pediatric Apple Watch) Study” aims to do two things:

  • Determine the accuracy of Apple Watch ECG tracings heart rate in children.
  • Determine if extended monitoring with the Apple Watch can identify arrhythmia events that were not detected by short-term clinical monitoring.

While the watch’s heart rate sensor and ECG feature are FDA-approved for arrhythmia detection in adults over 22 years old, we do not yet have much research into its use or accuracy in children and young adults under 22.

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About the PAWS study Apple Watch Pediatric Study (PAWS)

The Pediatric Apple Watch (PAWS) intends to enroll 100 children and young adults, ages 6-21 who are currently undergoing clinically indicated arrhythmia monitoring. Study participants wear an Apple Watch for 6 months.

During the 6 month investigation period, the study compares the number of clinically significant arrhythmia events between the Apple Watch and a standard clinical rhythm monitor.

For this study, clinically significant arrhythmia events include supraventricular arrhythmias, ventricular arrhythmias, sinus pauses, and conduction abnormalities/heart block.

The study lasts approximately one year and starts this November and should conclude by December 2024. 

The PAWS study follows the work of the landmark Apple Heart Study that researched how the Apple Watch could identify irregular heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation in adults aged 22 and older.

Study importance

Currently, Apple limits most of its Apple Watch’s health features to adults or children ages 13 and over.

For example, Apple offers the ECG app and the irregular rhythm notification feature for adults ages 22 and above, and it limits the high and low heart rate notifications to people 13 and older. 

Even things like calories are not counted for users under the age of 13. Instead, they get move minutes, rather than active calories, for their Move goal in the Activity app.

Investigating whether the Apple Watch and its ECG app and heart rate sensor can assist pediatric patients and their healthcare teams is one step in better understanding and managing pediatric cardiac care. 

Currently, treating children who need arrhythmia monitoring can place a huge financial and time burden on patients and their families. And it can be a painful source of stigma for these children. Being able to use an Apple Watch to passively monitor a child’s heart rate and rhythym from just their wrist would be a game changer for these patients and their families. 

The PAWS study comes on the heels of recent research at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s pediatric oncology clinic that looks into how an Apple Watch can help asses how cancer treatment impacts heart rhythm in children. 

We hope this new Stanford Univeristy study leads to improvements in managing pediatric cardiac care and reduces the stress and strain children and their families experience when managing their loved one’s care.

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A. Beth Whittenberger
I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


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