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Children's Health

How to Treat the Apnea

03/01/2011

Question:

My granddaughter had twin boys 6 weeks ago. The smallest boy had to go to the hosp. and was diagnosed with apnea and reflux. He was sent home with a monitor. Last night he almost died on us. These babies were 7 weeks early. Can the other twin have this too.

Answer:

It is not inevitable that the healthier twin now would develop apnea later but it is possible. And for a different reason, Apnea or cessation of airflow in an infant can be caused by many different things. Prematurity is the most common cause and depending on the degree of prematurity may affect a very large number of infants. This is called apnea of prematurity. Apnea of infancy occurs in older infants. It has been associated with maternal smoking and a variety of environmental factors in some infants.

Your grandchildren by your description of the dates are about 39 week gestational age or about 1 week younger than an infant would usually be born. The unaffected twin at this point would not have apnea of prematurity. However some infants develop apnea for other reasons. Infections are a common cause of apnea in term infants and during the winter upper respiratory infections especially viruses can precipitate apneas in these more mature babies.

I would suggest that both the twins be carefully evaluated by their pediatrician and referred to subspecialists as the situation might dictate.

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University