Apnoea is breath holding and happens more frequently in early infancy, especially when a baby has trisomy 13. The baby stops breathing without warning and becomes limp and blue. Breathing usually starts again after a few moments which will seem like a lifetime. Parents may consider the use of breathing monitors and learning simple resuscitation.
Apnoea has been described as 'the brain forgetting to tell the baby to breathe’ and slight stimulation or even resusitation may be needed. A paediatrician will advise whether to have an apnoea monitor at home and what to do in an emergency.
‘At the age of 7 weeks, Amy had a fortnight when she was extremely poorly and stopped breathing each time she awoke. These periods could be 2 or 3 minutes; one lasted about 8 minutes. It was indicated that she could not live more than a few hours but she fought on, gradually gaining strength.’
‘When Beth had her first apnoea spell I panicked. She screamed, then stopped breathing and turned blue. I picked her up and patted her back and she suddenly started breathing again. At the time I didn't know the cause and was very frightened, but each time we rocked her gently when it happened and patted her cheek until 'she came back'. When she was 3 months she started having spells whenever I fed her and we could see she was getting much worse. Within a few hours she died in my arms.’
‘We were scared to death each time Kelsey stopped breathing during apnoea spells but never regretted bringing her home and when she was older they stopped’.
‘Ellis had two violent apnoea attacks within half an hour that morning, then another two during the day - but we and the staff managed to bring him round without oxygen, as we had decided. It was a very difficult decision to come to but I believe it was the only one we could make. He died so peacefully, as we cuddled him.’