Of the 1,153 infants who completed montoring by Aug 1, 1984, through our program at Massachusetts General Hospital, 76 infants had an initial apnea spell during sleep which was characterized by a change in tone and color, was unresponsive to repeated vigorous stimulation, and was terminated only after mouth to mouth resuscitation. The infants were hospitalized for observation and evaluation, and no cause could be identified. All were discharged on a home apnea or cardiorespiratory monitor, and subsequent episodes of apnea and/or bradycardia were reviewed. We grouped infants based on the intervention used to terminate subsequent episodes: Group 1, resuscitation; group 2, vigorous stimulation; and group 3, neither resuscitation or vigorous stimulation. There was no significant difference in clinical features or in the results of the initial evaluation in groups 1 and 2, compared with group 3. However, the mortality rate was significantly higher in group 1 (4/13) and group 2 (3/12) than in group 3 (3/51) (P < .007). Siblings of victims of sudden infant death syndrome (n = 8) were at a significantly higher risk of an adverse outcome (two deaths and four resuscitations) than nonsiblings (P < .02). A seizure disorder that developed during monitoring was associated with a high mortality (4/11 v 6/65, P < .02). We conclude that these relatively rare infants who have sleep-onset apnea that responded only to resuscitation and have a subsequent similar episode or are siblings of victims of sudden infant death syndrome or develop a seizure disorder during monitoring have a very high risk of dying (31%, 25%, and 36% respectively). Physical examination, past medical history other than siblings of sudden infant death syndrome status, and laboratory evaluation on presentation were not helpful in predicting outcome in these 76 infants.
- Received May 6, 1985.
- Accepted July 12, 1985.
- Copyright © 1986 by the American Academy of Pediatrics