Do Monitors Prevent Infant Death After an Unexplained Event?

It’s the scenario no parent ever wants to experience. A baby that’s been perfectly healthy seems to stop breathing for….what seems like forever. In addition, he looks a little blue. 911 is called; perhaps the parents know CPR and begin that activity. In any case, by the time emergency medical help arrives, the baby looks perfectly fine. He’s transferred to the hospital—probably one with a specialized pediatric unit. Multiple tests fail to show anything wrong, and he continues to look healthy. The baby’s been sent home on a monitor. At home monitor goes off regularly, but the baby looks fine The post Do Monitors Prevent Infant Death After an Unexplained Event? appeared first on The Pulse.

Do Monitors Prevent Infant Death After an Unexplained Event?

It’s the scenario no parent ever wants to experience. A baby that’s been perfectly healthy seems to stop breathing for….what seems like forever. In addition, he looks a little blue. 911 is called; perhaps the parents know CPR and begin that activity. In any case, by the time emergency medical help arrives, the baby looks perfectly fine. He’s transferred to the hospital—probably one with a specialized pediatric unit.

Multiple tests fail to show anything wrong, and he continues to look healthy. The baby’s been sent home on a monitor. At home monitor goes off regularly, but the baby looks fine every time he’s checked. In fact, they’ve seen it go off when they’ve been looking right at the baby, who’s sleeping and breathing comfortably at the moment. In frustration, the parents take the monitor off.

Frustration is also the word that comes to mind to a busy pediatrician, who might have several sets of parents a year that go through something like this. There’s that feeling of not being able to give a family good answers and a nagging fear that something worse is imminent for the baby. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable topic, which likely explains why I see so few articles aimed at parents on the matter. And while anything your baby is doing that doesn’t seem right should be run by her provider, it’s helpful to know the basics regarding unexplained infant events and the most recent recommendations on their management.

Alphabet Soup: Knowing the Terms

You may have noticed that these days, very little about medicine can be written without using initials—lots of them. Our current subject is no exception, so, to paraphrase that often-heard telephone recording, please read closely as our initials have changed. We used to speak of an apparent life-threatening event (ALTE) when an infant did one or more of the following:

  • Stopped breathing, or exhibited irregular breathing
  • Changed color (usually blue or pale)
  • Became less responsive
  • Showed a change in muscle tone (stiff or limp)

Because recent thinking is that in an otherwise healthy infant, these events may be less likely to be life-threatening, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2016 proposed a new term for the same occurrence: brief resolved unexplained event (BRUE). It’s the same thing, but the new term has different implications.

We can’t leave our initials primer without talking about one set you might have heard of: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which was sometimes called “crib death” in the past. This has in recent years been renamed to sudden unexplained infant death (SUID), emphasizing that fact that the cause of the baby’s death is unknown.

BRUE and SUID

Now that we know what stands for what, we can ask: Is BRUE related to SUID? While one can never determine which infants—with or without a BRUE—will go on to sudden death, the two appear to have little relation to each other—if the infant is otherwise healthy and was born at or close to term. (Premature infants merit a different discussion.)

What’s most important is that any infant who may have experienced a BRUE be evaluated right away by a pediatrician. The doctor will take a thorough history, including a family history of unexplained deaths, and do an examination. The goal here is to look for any risk factors for sudden infant death.

A prompt history and examination (including family history) have always been warranted in the case of such an event. Where the newer recommendations differ from the previous ones is what might be done if all is normal on that first evaluation. According to the AAP, not every baby in this category may need further testing; the risks of testing may outweigh the risks of SUID. It’s definitely a decision that needs to be made individually for every baby in every situation.

What About a Monitor?

Lots and lots of babies who go through a BRUE end up going home with a monitor. (We’re not talking about those things that sit on a table in baby’s room; we’re referring to devices that are placed directly on the baby and track breathing and heart rate.) Yet we’ve known for a long time that monitors have not been shown to prevent SUID in otherwise healthy infants with such events. While a lot of it is done for peace of mind, any parent who’s had a baby with one can attest to the disruptive false alarms. Some studies have shown that the monitor can actually increase parental anxiety.

At the end of the day, I can’t emphasize enough that what to do in the case of a BRUE needs to be discussed carefully with your little one’s provider. If you do commit to a monitor, it’s also important to have a discussion before you think about discontinuing it; your pediatrician may have had reasons for OK’ing it that make it desirable to continue. Meanwhile, it’s important to know a little about normal variations in baby breathing, and to also be aware of one thing you can do to protect against sudden infant death—put your baby on his back to sleep in a level crib with a firm mattress and no soft bedding or toys!

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Sensory play ideas for babies

NextBeing a first time parent can be quite overwhelming in many respects. We know that a baby needs the basics to survive, such as food and sleep. But there is also the play component which can be very beneficial in the first year of a baby’s life. Here are some play ideas that you can […] The post Sensory play ideas for babies appeared first on Newborn Baby.

Sensory play ideas for babies

Being a first time parent can be quite overwhelming in many respects. We know that a baby needs the basics to survive, such as food and sleep. But there is also the play component which can be very beneficial in the first year of a baby’s life. Here are some play ideas that you can do in the comfort of your home with things that you can find around the house.  

Sensory play ideas for babies

1. Teach them object permanence 

Babies absolutely LOVE peek-a-boo games. You can do this by draping a muslin cloth over the baby’s face and pulling it off and saying “peek a boo”. If you don’t have a cloth, simply cover your face with your hands. As your baby responds with laughter and giggles, he/she is also learning object permanence – things still exist even when you can’t see them!

Another way to learn object permanence is by hiding a toy under a cloth and pulling the cloth away for the baby to see that the toy is still there. Babies will love to see this over and over again!

2. Strengthen their eye muscles

Babies are born with vision, however as your baby grows and develops outside the womb, we can help to strengthen those eye muscles.

Attach a little attractive toy to a piece of string. Lay your baby down on their back and hold the toy approximately 30cm above the baby’s eye level. Once he/she has focused on the toy, start to swing it slowly side to side. As your baby continues to focus and watch the toy move, he/she will strengthen their eye muscles and the eyes will learn to work well together. You can also do this by wiggling your fingers side to side for your baby to watch. 

3. Smells help create memories

Introducing new smells to babies can help create new memories for them. Exposing your baby to new and different smells allows your baby to explore and experience the world in a new way.

Have a basket of fruits and allow your baby, under direct supervision, to have a smell and touch of new fruits. Lemons, oranges, pineapple, and avocado have interesting textures and smells. Soaps and herbs can also be used to allow the baby’s sense of smell to be developed. 

4. Everyday items are fun

A laundry basket can keep a baby entertained. They are great to seat a 6 month plus baby in. Tie toys to the laundry basket and allow your baby to explore the items. If the baby throws the objects away, they can’t go far as they will be tied to the basket, making it easier to clean up. Babies love sitting in laundry baskets!

5. Make some noise

Homemade shakers can be a lot of fun and inexpensive to make. Grab hold of an empty water/milk/drink bottle. Fill the bottle with some rice or pasta. Approximately 10-20cm worth. If you like, colour the rice or pasta with some food colouring before filling the bottle. Have fun with your baby while shaking about!

6. Help their brain development

Exploring textures can be great fun and incredibly good for a baby’s development. As your baby touches new textures, it helps create connections in their brains. Find a variety of materials with different textures and allow your baby to feel and explore. Lay them on the floor for crawlers to crawl about. For the younger ones, gently touch them on their hands or feet to feel.

 

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