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Apnea means to stop breathing. All people, even babies, take short pauses in their breathing during sleep. These short pauses are NORMAL and should not scare you.

Apnea is a medical problem when:

  • Your baby's breathing stops for more than 20 seconds.
  • Your baby's breathing stops for a shorter period of time but he/she has a pale or blue color around the mouth and nose.

Apnea is often a symptom of other medical problems. The cause needs to be found and treated. Your baby’s doctor may order a variety of tests to help find the cause of apnea.

These tests may include:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG), to make sure your baby's heart is beating right
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), to rule out seizures
  • Upper GI, to look for reflux (when stomach contents back up into the esophagus)
  • Polysomnogram (sleep study), to check your child’s breathing and heart rate while asleep.

What can cause apnea:

  • Being born too soon
  • Low red blood cells
  • Seizures
  • Heart problems
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux
  • Severe Infections

Managing your child's apnea:

Your baby’s doctor and nurse will review treatment plans and medications with you before your baby goes home.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 04/2008