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Unexplained lapses in breathing while sleeping, leading to reduced supply of oxygen to the brain and heart with life-threatening irregularity of the heartbeat. Sleep Apnea can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a mysterious tragedy that kills apparently healthy infants.

Sex or Age most Affected

Infants of both sexes.

Signs & Symptons

During an episode of Sleep Apnea, breathing stops and skin turns blue. Episodes may last several minutes. Breathing usually resumes spontaneously. Unless death occurs, these episodes are apparent only with careful observation by hospital nurses or parents during the first weeks after birth.



Risk Increases With

  • Prematurity or low birth weight.
  • Young mothers (less than 20 years old). As theorized earlier, older mothers (over age 35) do NOT have a higher incidence of infants with sleep apnea.
  • Lower socioeconomic groups.


Special equipment (respiration monitor) is used continuously to monitor breathing in infants that experience sleep apnea or in those suspected of being at risk for SIDS.

Diagnostic Measures

None, except the observations of breathing lapses.

Possible Complications

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – When this occurs, infants die in their sleep without signs of struggle or injury. Autopsies show no apparent cause of death. Indian statistics are not available but in the US, approximately 6,000 to 7,000 such deaths occur each year.

Probable Outcomes

As long as SIDS can be averted, infants with sleep apnea grow and develop normally. Most children are considered out of danger and can be taken off the monitor between 6 months and 1 year of age.


General Measures

  • If your baby suffers from sleep apnea, obtain and use a respiration monitor. The manufacturer and your doctor or nurse will demonstrate and provide full instructions.
  • If your baby has a monitor, obtain detailed cardiopulmonary resuscitation training (CPR). In many cases, CPR can revive an infant who has stopped breathing, and the child experiences no serious after effects.


No medication is currently available to prevent sleep apnea in infants.


No special diet. Bottle-feeding has NO association with SIDS, as was once theorized.

Contact your Doctor

Your baby has lapses in breathing (apnea) during sleep. Call immediately! This is an emergency!