Apnea has long been recognized as a clinical problem in infants. Considerable investigative and clinical attention has been directed toward this condition. Although progress has been made and certain categories of apnea have been delineated, etiology remains unclear in many situations. Furthermore, the condition is common in certain populations, such as in infants born prematurely. Whether an apneic event occurs independently or in association with a pathophysiologic process such as sepsis or an environmental factor such as change in temperature, there is concern about possible effects of interrupted breathing.
Measurement of normal and abnormal physiologic processes such as breathing patterns is facilitated by devices. Monitors have emerged in the laboratory and hospital and have contributed to the discovery of new knowledge and management of abnormalities. Monitoring in this paper refers to the use of electronic devices. Technical advances, especially in electronics, have resulted in many devices that seem to be accurate, useful, and safe. Others are of questionable value.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was recognized before this century but did not receive close attention until relatively recently. Public Law 93-270, The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act of 1974, gave the Public Health Service the mandate to stimulate research and administer counseling and information programs.
In 1972, a paper reported that two of five infants with documented prolonged sleep apnea died of SIDS. A great deal of attention during the 1970s was directed toward the relationship between apnea and SIDS. As the 1970s and 1980s unfolded, the use of monitors in the home environment to detect apnea expanded.
- Received October 14, 1986.
- Accepted November 12, 1986.
- Copyright © 1987 by the American Academy of Pediatrics