Apnea in Infants

Also known as: pediatric apnea, infant sleep apnea.

What is apnea in infants?

Sleep apnea is a disease characterized by interruptions to breathing during sleep that vary in nature and severity. It is fairly common among adults, but rare in children and infants. When apnea occurs in infants, it’s often referred to as pediatric apnea or infant sleep apnea.

What causes apnea in infants?

Most cases of apnea in infants are the result of developmental problems in the infant. Specifically, an immature brainstem is the common cause. In other instances, apnea in infants is a complication related to other medical conditions.

What are the symptoms of apnea in infants?

Apnea in infants can vary in nature in severity. The pauses in breathing often follow a pattern and are severe if they last 20 seconds or longer. Apnea in infants may also be accompanied by a slow heartbeat, low oxygen levels or other problems. In some cases, the infant may require resuscitation or other urgent care.

What are apnea in infants care options?

Most cases of apnea in infants tend to go away as the child grows. The vast majority of infants are free of symptoms after 40 weeks. In the meantime, breathing machines and medications can help with treatment. If apnea is tied to a related medical condition, then that condition will need to be treated.


Reviewed by: Mercedes Bello, MD

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2021 04:38 PM

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