Sleep Apnea is also spelled as Sleep Apnoea. Apnea can occur in newborn babies and sometimes adults also. Infant sleep apnea is common in premature babies. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder when there is a temporary cessation of breathing during sleep. It often results in daytime sleepiness. Complete pause in breathing is ‘apnea’ and partial pause or reduction is ‘hypopnea’.
Types of Sleep Apneas:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
It is more common of the two forms where the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep and blocks the airway.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
Due to instability in the respiratory control center, the brain fails to send signals to the muscles to breathe. In this, the airway is not blocked as in OSA but the body stops its efforts to breathe. Even healthy infants can have a brief central apnea.
Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA)
It is central apnea which is followed by obstructive apnea. Mixed apnea is most common in small premature infants.
Causes of Infant Sleep Apnea:
- Developmental problem due to the immature brainstem
- Any other medical condition
Risk factors for Sleep Apnea:
- Large neck size, tonsils, small jaw bone or a large tongue
- Being overweight
- Family history
- Nasal obstruction
- Over the age of 40
Effects of Sleep Apnea:
- Hypoxemia (not enough oxygen in the blood)
- Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Worsening of ADHD
How to treat Infant Sleep Apnea?
Gentle stimulation therapy can cure apnea in preterm infants. According to a new research from Harvard Medical School, stochastic resonance (SR) stimulation that is a vibration-based therapy can treat infant sleep apnea.
Over the course of three to four hours, at the alternate 30 minutes intervals, babies were placed on mattresses which were specifically developed with SR stimulation. Infant sleep apnea was decreased by half in this clinical trial where regular mattresses were replaced with SR mattresses.
SR mattresses provide a very soothing and gentle vibration which gives the same effect as a light massage to babies. It helps them to relax and sleep for a longer time without interruptions.
BabySoJao mattresses are also developed with SR stimulation which is absolutely safe and a noninvasive supplemental treatment for infant sleep apnea.