apnea of prematurity

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Related to apnea of prematurity: respiratory distress syndrome

apnea of prematurity

Abbreviation: AOP
A condition of the premature newborn, marked by repeated episodes of apnea lasting longer than 20 sec. The diagnosis of AOP is one of exclusion, made when no treatable cause can be found. Increased frequency of apneic episodes directly relates to the degree of prematurity. AOP is not an independent risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome. Apneic episodes may result in bradycardia, hypoxia, and respiratory acidosis.


There is no specific treatment. Initial efforts should begin with the least-invasive method. Tactile stimulation is often successful with early recognition. When gentle stimulation does not produce a response, bag and mask ventilation is initiated. Methylxanthines such as caffeine, theophylline, and aminophylline are helpful.

Patient care

Care includes maintenance of a neutral thermal environment, avoidance of prolonged oral feedings, use of tactile stimulation early in the apneic episode, and ventilatory support as needed. The infant who has experienced and survived an episode of apnea is maintained on cardiac and respiratory monitoring devices. Before discharge, parents are taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation, use of monitoring equipment, and how to recognize signs of medication toxicity if medications are used.

See also: apnea
References in periodicals archive ?
Apnea of prematurity, sudden infant death syndrome, and apparent life-threatening events.
Major finding: No differences were seen in later childhood between children with apnea of prematurity treated with caffeine or placebo in terms of sleep pathology, but apnea of prematurity itself increases risk for obstructive sleep apnea and restless sleep in later childhood.
Comprehensive care and anticipatory guidance can help eliminate masking by apnea of prematurity of serious conditions that initially present as an ALTE.
Apnea of prematurity is not a proven risk factor for SIDS.
Specific to the respiratory system they cover such topics as apnea of prematurity, asthma basics, asthma and teens, BPD, cystic fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and nutrition, managing asthma, meconium aspiration, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), and transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN).
Chapter 28 deals with major pulmonary disorders in the neonate such as transient tachypnea of the newborn, pneumonia, meconium aspiration and apnea of prematurity while Chapter 29 covers congenital and surgical disorders that affect respiration.