Sleep Apnea Could Predict Mortality In Infants With Heart Disease

Published: Monday, September 17, 2018 - 3:37pm

Medical experts at the University of Arizona have found a potential link between infants born with congenital heart disease and a form of sleep apnea.

UA researchers poured over 15 years of national pediatric cases between 1997 and 2012 and found hospitalized infants born with congenital heart disease and showing signs of central sleep apnea were four times as likely to die during their hospital stay than infants without the sleep disorder.

Pediatric doctor Daniel Combs explained that central sleep apnea is more insidious compared to other forms of the disorder.

"Instead of trying to take a breath and choking, your brain doesn't quite send a signal to take a breath," he said, "so you just have a silent pause in breathing."

Upon analysis, Combs said signs of sleep apnea in children under age 18 could be an indicator of how serious a heart defect is or that one exists.

He recommended parents look for both the obvious and not-so-obvious symptoms.

"How do they sleep," he asked. "Are they snoring loudly, do you ever hear them gasping, or choking, are they just having silent pauses in breathing?"

Any signs of abnormal breathing, he said, should be taken seriously and followed up with a sleep study.

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