Apnea in children

Apnea in children is one of the topics that causes the most emotion in young parents. Especially in the first weeks of a child's life, when the vision of cot death is the strongest and often exaggerated by the media and producers of breathing monitors. To look at her without unnecessary emotions, right behind her should be reliable information, what is apnea in children, how often it occurs and how to deal with it. And that's what this article is about.

Children breathe differently

Children, especially small ones, breathe differently than adults. Already in the first days after birth, less regularity can be seen. Faster and shallower breathing and deeper breathing are typical. They are also natural short periods of apnea lasting up to 20 seconds, especially during sleep.

Causes of apnea

Temporarily stopping breathing has various causes. Most often it occurs in children born prematurely: before 37 weeks of pregnancy. In this group applies 30-50% of newborns (depending on the source). The cause is the immature respiratory system.
Apnea episodes most commonly affect children between 1 and 6 months of age. Almost completely disappear after 12 months of age.

The cause of apnea in a newborn baby can also be low birth weight, which can cause excessive cooling of the body.

Healthy babies born on time may experience apnea during infectionwhen runny nose blocks the airways.

The cause, especially in older children, can be overgrown palatine almond. Most often, this irregularity can be recognized by the fact that the child wakes up sleepy, cranky and in a bad mood. The problem can also be recognized by the frequent incidence of angina, otitis, mouth breathing and snoring. Most often, it is recommended to remove the tonsils in such situations.

In older children, apneas may take the form of so-called moving in, or bouts of affective apnea. They appear during agitation, crying, rebellion or hysteria. In rare cases, they can even lead to brief fainting. If this happens frequently, consult a doctor.

Apnea can also be caused by an accident. In this case, the child loses consciousness and his breathing stops. Epilepsy may also be another cause.

Such a long list of apnea reasons does not change the fact that the most common cause of the problem is prematurity. Typical apneas in premature babies appear on the third day of life. If they occur earlier, for example on the first day, they can be caused by a breathing disorder known by name RDS. In each case, we have premature babies are informed about the procedure for observing apnea episodes. Even in the neonatal intensive care and neonatal pathology wards, the causes of apnea problems are determined and parents are being trained.

How do you recognize a newborn's apnea?

Apnea in a newborn is diagnosed when when the breath stops for more than 15-20 seconds. Most often, such a change is accompanied by a slowdown in the heart rate, which drops to less than 100 beats per minute. Sometimes, breathing stops accompanied by bruising. However, if periods of apnea occur sporadically, last less than 15 seconds, do not cause pallor or bruising, there is no cause for concern. However, you can consult a doctor for your own peace of mind.

Whenever you notice periods of apnea in children, you should consult a doctor. Ignoring the problem is not a good option. The pediatrician should refer us to an ENT doctor, that is, a specialist who thoroughly examines the child and performs the necessary tests: X-ray, computer topography and sometimes functional tests (e.g. assessing nasal patency). After determining the cause of apnea, adequate treatment is introduced.

Quick help

Apnea can be prevented by stroking, rocking or gently rubbing, which is especially recommended for premature babies. By increasing the number of stimuli, you can increase the activity of the respiratory center.
If an apnea episode occurs (lasts over 15-20 seconds) and the child is blue, you should act quickly. The basis is taking the baby out of the cot and tilting him head down, shaking and patting the child on the back. It is very important to make sure that both the nose and mouth are clear. If there is no reaction, call an ambulance and proceed to artificial mouth-to-mouth breathing.