If the world were a perfect place, babies would be born and immediately protected from all harm, but unfortunately that’s not how life works. Infants can even suffer from sleep apnea in which they experience reductions and pauses in breathing during sleep.

Since sleep apnea reduces the amount of oxygen entering the body, infant apnea can be very dangerous for babies, especially premature infants.

What Causes Infant Sleep Apnea?

baby sleepingThough it’s common for a certain amount of instability in an infant’s breathing, apnea is a distinguished disease from specific root causes. Some babies develop apnea as a result of an immature brainstem, while for others it pops up due to a different medical condition.

Small preterm infants are at the highest risk, with 84 percent of premature babies weighing less than 2.2 pounds experiencing apnea in the first month of life. Infants weighing over 5.5 pounds at birth are at a 25 percent lower risk of developing apnea.

What Does Infant Sleep Apnea Look Like?

Infants with sleep apnea have prolonged breathing pauses that last longer than 2 seconds, experience repeated shorter pauses in breathing, and exhibit slower heartbeat and lower oxygen levels.

This can be a very scary occurrence for new parents who are unsure what is happening. Sleep apnea breathing pauses are brief, and breathing always resumes itself.

How Can Infant Sleep Apnea Be Treated?

The good news is that infant sleep apnea tests commonly resolves itself as the child grows and matures. An incredible 98 percent of preterm babies become symptom-free by 40 weeks after conception.

However, while the sleep apnea lasts, the baby may need a machine to provide breathing support or medications to open airways.

Since it’s vital that newborns receive as much oxygen as possible to the newly developing brain, sleep apnea needs to be identified and treated swiftly to avoid any long-term damage due to oxygen deprivation.

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