Ever heard of the term “apnea of prematurity?” It’s a lot more common than you think. Learn about this condition and how it affects your baby.
Apnea of Prematurity
Photo by Ivone De Melo
Apnea of prematurity is the medical term for when a baby stops breathing for a few seconds. It usually happens to babies born prematurely. Apnea can also result from mental immaturity and weak muscles that keep the airway open.
Infection, heart or lung problems, low blood counts, low oxygen levels, temperature problems, feeding problems, and overstimulation are a few other difficulties that a premature newborn may occasionally face that aggravate apnea.
Causes of Apnea of Prematurity
Premature newborns lack the necessary development in the part of the brain and spinal cord that controls respiration to allow for continuous breathing.
Babies who have prematurity apnea may go for extended periods of time without breathing at all. The condition could be influenced by several factors. Here are a handful of causes of why a baby stops breathing while awake because of apnea of prematurity:
- Bleeding inside the brain or brain damage
- Lung problems
- Stomach problems, such as reflux
- Too much or lacking substance in the body (i.e calcium or glucose.)
- Difficulties with the heart or blood vessels
- Reflexes that lead to apnea. Suctioning, feeding tubes, or the position of the baby’s neck may all contribute to this.
- Changes in body temperature of baby
Apnea of Prematurity Symptoms
Apnea of prematurity occurs when a baby’s breathing stops for 20 seconds or even more. Additional apnea symptoms and warning indications include:
- Bluish colour on the skin (cyanosis)
- Diminished heart rate
- Absence of oxygen
How Is Apnea of Prematurity Diagnosed
Determining whether the apnea is caused by prematurity or another problem is crucial. An expert in medicine will examine your child. To identify possible reasons for the apnea, he or she will test several physical systems in your infant.
The doctor will continuously check your baby’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. The following tests may be run to determine the problem:
- Blood test
- Blood oxygen level
- Lab tests
- X-ray, ultrasound, or other imaging tests
- Sleep studies where vital signs are monitored.
Because moderate apnea is common in premature newborns and the majority of these babies have normal outcomes, it is thought that moderate apnea has no long-term effects.
However, the majority of medical specialists concur that it is ultimately ideal for the newborn to avoid frequent or serious episodes.
Complications that Come with Apnea of Prematurity
Photo by Lisa
Premature babies may experience a variety of problems. They frequently have to stay in the hospital for extended periods of time. Prematurity apnea is one of the problems associated with premature infants.
Apnea of prematurity associated with preterm may cause a slow heartbeat and less oxygen in the blood. These newborns have a risk of respiratory failure-related death. They may also continue to have lung problems.
Treatment for Apnea of Prematurity
How the problem is handled depends on the most likely causes, the frequency, and the severity of apnea periods.
Babies who are otherwise healthy and only have a few spells of apnea of prematurity each day are simply examined and gently encouraged as needed.
Caffeine supplements may be administered to infants who appear healthy but have a number of episodes in order to promote breathing. Proper positioning, slower feeding rates, oxygen, and ventilator support may be needed to help with breathing.
Many premature children will grow out of the condition eventually. If therapy is necessary, it may include:
This includes getting enough oxygen, controlling body temperature, and keeping proper posture.
Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
The lungs and airways get air continuously through the nose. It is feasible to combine CPAP with nasal intermittent positive pressure breathing.
Methylxanthine stimulates breathing.
You and your child may also be asked to bring home an apnea monitor for apnea of prematurity. You should use it while you or your child is sleeping or otherwise occupied.
The alarms on the apnea monitor are loud, so you shouldn’t place them next to your baby’s head.
Make sure to check every single alarm.
Baby and Periodic Breathing
Young children and adults breathe much more slowly than infants do. Between 40 and 60 breaths per minute are usual for a baby. This may drop to 30 to 40 times per minute when the baby is napping.
Baby stops breathing for a few seconds while sleeping
A newborn may breathe in many times quickly, pause for less than 10 seconds, and then breathe in several times quickly again. This is called periodic breathing.
Usually, babies breathe by using their diaphragm, a large muscle that is situated beneath the lungs. If a baby’s breathing rate or pattern changes, they begin using new muscles and areas of their chest to breathe.
While your baby is napping, you can watch for periodic breathing. Sometimes they might breathe strongly for a while, then breathe shallowly for a while. There might even be brief pauses where your baby seems to stop breathing entirely for a few seconds.
This cyclical respiratory rhythm, which is normally completely normal, is part of acceptable newborn growth. Your youngster ought to outgrow this as they grow older.
Baby stopped breathing and went blue
However, if your baby’s lips or skin colour changes, they may be in respiratory distress and need emergency medical help. Contact your paediatrician and bring your baby to the hospital without delay.
Alert! Danger Signs In Newborn Parents Must Pay Attention To
Extremely Preterm – Risks of Babies Born at 24 Weeks
What Do Newborns Look Like? Normal Physical Characteristics of Newborns and How They Change
What to Do if Baby Stops Breathing
Call the doctor immediately if you notice any of these warning signs or symptoms in your child:
- Becomes completely blue or becomes blue only in areas with high blood flow, such as the lips, tongue, or vagina. Blueing of the hands and feet of a child is common due to their underdeveloped circulatory systems, but if other areas begin to turn blue, it’s critical to seek quick medical attention.
- Has a breathing rate that is noticeably faster than 60 breaths per minute.
- Breathing difficulties, as shown by unusual chest retractions and frequently flared nostrils
- Is not eating well or refuses to eat
- Is overly sleepy
- Breathing pauses that last longer than ten seconds
- groaning and sighing
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Deeper breathing that causes the ribs to protrude
You can also set up a doctor’s appointment to know more about apnea of prematurity and how to prevent and manage it.
The following advice can help you get the most out of a doctor’s appointment. Before your appointment, make a list of the questions you have.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the visit’s date, time, and purpose.
- Any new diagnoses, prescriptions, therapies, or tests should be noted at the appointment. Make a note of any new instructions your doctor may provide you.
- Recognise how to contact your doctor if you have any inquiries.
- Know the advantages of any new treatments or medications that have been recommended for you. Be mindful of any possible drawbacks as well.
- Know what to expect if you choose not to take medication, have the procedure, or go through the test.
- Before getting a test or having surgery, be aware of what the results can entail.
- Find out whether there are any more diseases that could be treated.
This article was written by Margaux Dolores and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.