Wednesday, 29 September 2010

SIDS: Infant Sleep Apnea: Basic Facts About Sleep Apnea in Babies

Sep 5, 2009
Rina Magallanes
It is estimated that around 2,500 children in the US die from Sudden Infant Death Sydrome (SIDS) each year. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a phenomenon that takes away the life of even the healthiest of babies without warning. Also referred to as “crib death”, SIDS affect infants with ages 1 month to 1 year. SIDS can be caused by a number of factors. One of these factors is infant sleep apnea.
What is Infant Sleep Apnea?

Infant sleep apnea is a condition where the baby experiences a pause in breathing. Usually, this happens for twenty seconds but sometimes, the pause may be longer. Infant sleep apnea can happen to any babies that are between the age of 1 month to 1 year; however, premature babies and those that are suffering from illnesses and certain medical conditions are more at risk of this condition. Infant sleep apnea may not be much to worry about if the symptoms are mild as it may likely just go away as the baby matures. Nonetheless, a physician should be consulted if the symptoms persist and the pause in breathing lasts for more than 20 seconds. In these cases, the baby may be at risk.
What are the Symptoms of Infant Sleep Apnea?
The symptoms of infant sleep apnea do not have much difference when compared to the symptoms of sleep apnea in adults. Common symptoms of sleep apnea in infants include but may not be limited to the following:
  • cessation or pause in breathing that lasts for 20 seconds or more
  • snoring
  • restlessness during sleep
  • breathing through the mouth instead of through the nose
  • a change in color (the baby may become bluish or pale)
It is normal for infants to experience pauses in breathing during sleep. In fact, it is believed to be part of infants’ respiratory behavior. The pauses in breathing are caused by the immature breathing reflexes in babies, which are normal characteristics of newborns. However, when this occurs more often and longer than the normally accepted range, this can be a sign of infant sleep apnea and must be consulted with a physician.
What are the Causes of Infant Sleep Apnea?
Scientists still have not come up with a concrete explanation of why sleep apnea happens in some infants while it may not affect other babies. However, they have attributed a number of factors as the possible causes of infant sleep apnea. These factors include:
  • blockage of the airways, which may be caused by a relaxed tongue or by enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • congenital conditions such as Down Syndrome
  • birth defects including abnormalities in facial characteristics (i.e, cleft palate and receding chin)
  • weight problems
  • gastroesophogeal reflux
  • low blood and sugar
  • internal bleeding in the brain during delivery
Allergies and medical conditions such as asthma and other respiratory problems may cause enlarged tonsils and may therefore, also become causes of sleep apnea in babies.
Dangers Associated with Infant Sleep Apnea
Infant sleep apnea can put babies at risk when not immediately detected and given medical attention. Prolonged pauses in breathing can deprive the brain of oxygen, resulting to complications. Babies who experience longer pauses of breathing may become blue or pale and may suffer from a condition known as ALTE (Apparent Life-Threatening Event). Worst, babies suffering from prolonged pauses in breathing may suffer from SIDS.
How to Reduce the Risks of Infant Sleep Apnea
The risks associated with sleep apnea in babies can be minimized and prevented. Once parents notice that their child is experiencing prolonged cessation of breathing, it is imperative that they immediately consult a physician as soon as possible. It is also advisable to follow the recommendations of the physician when the baby is diagnosed with infant sleep apnea.
Here are some ways of reducing the risks of sleep apnea in babies:
  • Never let your baby sleep on his chest. Lying on the chest may cause labored breathing to the baby. In short, let the baby sleep in a position where his airways may not be blocked in any way.
  • Ensure that the baby’s sleeping zone is clean and from dusts, mites and any other objects which may likely cause respiratory problems and trigger sleep apnea.
  • Do not put babies on bouncy baby carriers, swings or seats that may curl them forward.
  • Avoid exposing babies to tobacco and cigarette smoke.
  • Ensure that baby’s bed is free from things that may accidentally suffocate him.

No comments:

Post a Comment