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 ?
This first-ever placebo-controlled study concluded that caffeine citrate proved significantly better than placebo in reducing apnea of prematurity episodes in infants between 28 to 32 weeks post-conception.
Results from a 10- to 12-day multicenter, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of 85 preterm infants (gestational age 28 to <33 weeks with apnea of prematurity demonstrated that CAFCIT treatment significantly eliminated apnea events on day 2 of treatment [percent of patients with zero apnea events: 26.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of CAFCIT(R) (caffeine citrate) Injection for the short-term treatment of apnea of prematurity (AOP) in infants between 28 and <33 weeks gestational age.
The only potential safety problems identified were an increase in frequency of apnea of prematurity (a temporary cessation in breathing) and a possible increase in the incidence of pulmonary hemorrhage.