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Baby Sleep Apnea - Learn about Reasons, Signs and Treatment of Babies Sleep Apnea

In earlier times, baby sleep apnea was considered as a great threat of “sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)”, but no such connection has been found by the experts in the recent past.
However, if not treated, it can bring severe difficulties, for instance reduced growth and slow heart speed. Sleep apnea is a real chaos that interrupts your breathing several times throughout your sleep time.
Sleep Apnea Types
The first one is recognized by “Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)”. In this type, the upper airway gets blocked.
Second one is “Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)”. It is not caused by blockage rather breathing muscles do not receive signals from the brain.
Third one is called “Mixed Apnea”. It is caused by the combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
Which Age Group Babies are at Risk of Sleep Apnea?
Baby sleep apnea is more widespread in premature babies who were born earlier than expected (37 weeks). In this case, it is known as “apnea of prematurity”. It is recognized as “apnea of infancy” if baby is born as expected (37 weeks) or some time later.
Baby Sleep apnea is higher in children who have “down syndrome“and other inherited symptoms related to upper airway. Majority (more than half) of such children build up Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Reasons of Sleep Apnea in Babies
Often an obstruction in the airway or immature brain stalk that is responsible to regulate breathing is accountable for babies’ sleep apnea. Several other reasons may include:
  1. Trouble with blood vessels or heart
  2. Disturbance in body chemistry, for instance inaccurate glucose or calcium amounts.
  3. Gastrointestinal difficulties such as reflux
  4. Respiratory illness
  5. Any type of infection
  6. Any defect by birth
  7. Contact with poisons or drugs
  8. Inside brain bleeding

Signs of Sleep Apnea in Babies
Breathing stops for 20 or more seconds in a number of babies having sleep apnea, while breathing stops for less time in several others and they may show symptoms of slower heart speed while sleeping, or they may turn out blue or pale or may develop limp.  
Important: It is common in newborn babies less than six months old to undergo infrequent pattern of breathing. This type of pattern is known as ‘periodic or cyclic breathing’ and it usually begins with fast breaths, and then slows down and then 5-10 seconds break in breathing. This pattern repeats itself on and on and there is nothing to be afraid of this pattern. Babies correct this pattern by the age of 6 months or older.
Threats of Baby Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can bring about grave intricacies and in some situations, it can be deadly – particularly in babies who were given birth earlier than 28 weeks conception. 
The carbon dioxide level rises in the blood and oxygen level decreases as soon as the baby discontinues breathing. Heart beat might also drop severely and the baby may undergo unconsciousness and required to be revived again.
Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
A baby physician will carry out physical and various other tests for knowing the oxygen level in the blood and also observe his heart rate and breathing patterns.  The physician may also carry out X-ray test.

The physician may pass on you to a lung, sleep or apnea professional for more in depth examination of your baby.

Polysomnogram is an examination that is generally used for diagnosing sleep apnea. It is a simple test carried out in a sleep laboratory under examination by skilled professionals. It checks breathless sounds and snoring while baby at sleep and also monitors several other things such as level of oxygen in blood, breathing patterns, movements of eyes and brain waves etc.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea
Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Baby specialist may recommend you to use home monitor for monitoring heart rate and breathing process of your baby. Medication may also be suggested for stimulating the main nerve system.
A CPAP machine is needed in a number of children to keep the air passages unlock by driving air through nose with the help of a mask while at sleep. However, the signs of central sleep apnea are not normally relived by this machine.
Luckily, babies suffering from sleep apnea hardly ever have any long-lasting impediments and the sleep apnea symptoms generally disappear automatically as the affected baby grows. Mostly earlier born babies show no signs of apnea before 44 weeks gestation.
What to do if your baby stops breathing?

Stroke or push so that your baby may respond. If no response is seen, immediately call emergency. If the body or forehead of your baby turns out blue, he might be unsafe. Though, it’s normal for baby’s mouth, feet or hands to turn blue especially when he is weeping or suffering from cold.

Immediately, start giving first aid and call for urgent help. Continue repeating the process until help arrives or baby resumes breathing. It is important for parents to know about first aid. So, seek first aid training from nearby hospital or any other such local source.


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