Twenty-six infants with unexplained and apparently life-threatening apnea were evaluated clinically, underwent eight- or 12-hour polygraphic recordings during sleep, and were then observed on home monitors. The one exception was an infant who was treated with theophylline and not monitored at home. Clinical evaluation revealed a history of vomiting in 19 infants, gastroesophageal reflux (GER) on esophagram in 19, and subtle neurologic abnormalities in ten. Polygraphic studies revealed questionable EEG abnormalities in nine infants, abnormal rapid eye movement (REM) time in four, prolonged apnea in one, and increased frequency of brief mixed (central and obstructive) and obstructive apneas in five. Of the 11 infants who underwent pH monitoring during their polygraphic sleep studies, seven had at least one recorded episode of GER, but the episodes were not accompanied by apnea or bradycardia. Thirteen infants had a subsequent episode of apnea that required stimulation, and in eight infants, cardiopulmonary resuscitation was given. There was two deaths. Two infants subsequently developed seizure disorders. Three of the five infants who underwent surgical fundoplication had recurrent apneic episodes. GER commonly occurred in these infant apnea patients but did not correlate with the clinical outcome. Although subtle abnormalities may be detected by sophisticated polygraphic monitoring studies, they are not predictive of recurrent apnea or death. Home monitoring may be useful in detecting the infant at risk for recurrent life-threatening apnea and in providing some safeguard for that infant.
- Received June 7, 1981.
- Copyright © 1983 by the American Academy of Pediatrics