Your baby is being admitted for observation or diagnosis of apnea. The definition of apnea is "not breathing for a period of longer than 15 seconds." This is usually combined with a change in the baby's skin color, limpness, and or slow heart rate. Many baby's have "periodic breathing". This is not the same as apnea. It is a period of pauses between breaths lasting from 5-10 seconds followed by a short period of rapid breathing. The baby does not have a change in color, or slow heart rate with periodic breathing.
A few of the common conditions that might cause apnea are; severe respiratory infection, seizures, prematurity, gastro-esophageal reflux. Your baby will be connected to a monitor that will record her heart rate and breathing rate. This will help us closely keep track of her heart rate and breathing rate. It has an alarm on it that will alert us if she has trouble breathing, or if her heart rate drops below a preset limit.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
Depending on your baby's condition, and your statements of how the baby behaved before, during and after the apnea episode the doctor will determine which tests he needs to perform. Some tests that might be done include blood work, x-rays, EEG, and/or a pneumogram.The blood work can help detect infections, or an imbalance in the baby's blood stream.
An Upper GI x-ray is a test that involves having your baby drink a bottle of thick barium solution. The x-ray follows this barium through your child's stomach and gut to see if a condition called "reflux" occurs. This is when the barium comes back up into the throat instead of remaining in the stomach. If the barium comes back up into the throat, formula also does that during feedings. When this happens some of the formula can go back down into the baby's airway and cause the baby to stop breathing for a period of time.
EEG is a test of your baby's brain waves. It is not painful. The baby will have many little electrodes attached to her and must be perfectly quiet during the test. This test will detect any seizure activity that may be occurring.
A pneumogram looks just like a heart monitor, but will give us a 12 hour print-out on paper of your baby's breathing and heart rate. This will be evaluated by a doctor who will be able to determine if and when any apnea episodes occurred in those 12 hours. He will also be able to determine if they are associated with any particular activities such as feeding, or sleeping.