Apnea in premature babies, what risks involve

Usually a baby already has to receive care. Such a small person must be constantly guarded to meet their needs and prevent possible risks that may endanger their lives. These attentions have to be increased in the case of premature, who for not having complied with the gestation are not fully developed and may be victims of several eventualities.

One of these is sleep apnea, which can seriously compromise the baby's health premature making the tissues do not receive the amount of oxygen necessary for its operation.

What is sleep apnea?

According to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics apneas are "prolonged stops in respiration that produce a decrease in oxygen in the blood and that they can compromise the arrival of oxygen to the tissues. "These pauses are accompanied by bradycardia, decreases in heart rate below the limits considered normal for a baby.


In the case of premature infants, apneas are frequent because the center that controls breathing in their brain is still immature. As these babies grow, this area, which controls the intake of air, matures. In this way these pauses that compromise the arrival of oxygen to the organism of the small born prematurely disappear.

When there is a risk to the premature baby

The pediatricians explain that there more risk when the premature baby is the brother of victims of sudden infant death. Also in those cases with a history of resuscitation maneuvers due to an inexplicable brief episode, resolved during their hospital stay.


When the baby has persistent apneas not serious, being ready to be discharged. Babies who need oxygen or a respirator at home. In the event that the risk of apnea persists after the child is discharged, the parents will be given monitors for their home and their functioning will be explained.

It is recommended that days before discharge parents take charge of their management to familiarize themselves with its operation and avoid problems at home. They will also be given a phone number where they can call in case of any incident with the device. At the same time it is advisable that parents receive basic resuscitation lessons.

How to use the apnea monitor

The apnea monitor consists of a sticker, electrode, which must be placed on the baby's belly and attached to the monitor with a cable. This device will be responsible for detecting abdominal movements of the child to know when he breathes and his heart rate.


Apnea monitors have three types of alarms: for breathing, for low heart rate and for heart rate high. The limits of these notices will be scheduled before hospital discharge and may be modified as the baby grows, as long as the doctor approves this variation.

If there is a pause, the monitor will detect it and a alarm so parents can watch the baby. Occasionally, it may be a false warning because the child has moved or the electrode has detached. But whenever this warning sounds, we must go to the minor to check to avoid problems.

The baby should not always carry the monitor. While awake and playing with parents, you can take it away. The only time you should be active is always when the premature baby sleeps.

Damián Montero

Video: Neonatal Seizures


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