Apparent Life-Threatening Event
Alternate Names : Apnea Spell, Infant Apnea, Acute Life-Threatening Episode, ALTE
What are the treatments for the condition?
The first priority during an ALTE episode is to get the infant to
breathe again. This may be as simple as gently stimulating the infant by
picking the baby up and calling out the baby's name. If the infant does not
start to breathe, rubbing his back or the bottom of his foot may cause him
to breathe. If the infant still does not start breathing, paramedics should be
called and resuscitation should be started, including mouth-to-mouth breathing
After the baby starts breathing, he or she will be monitored for
further episodes. If the infant is not ill and diagnostic tests and monitoring
do not reveal an underlying cause, there may be no need for further treatment.
If an underlying cause is found, the treatment will depend on that
cause. For example, an infant who has an infection will need to be treated for
that infection. An infant who has a congenital heart disease
may need medicine or surgery, depending on the cause. Treatment and
diagnosis may require a medical team that includes specialists in different areas.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects of treatment also depend on the cause of the illness.
If no cause for the ALTE is found and the infant is healthy, there are no side
effects. Antibiotics for infection may cause stomach upset or
Surgery poses a risk for infection, bleeding, or
What happens after treatment for the condition?
What happens after treatment depends on the cause of the ALTE.
If no cause is found and the infant appears healthy, the infant can often be
Sometime an underlying cause is treated but there are concerns that
the infant will have more ALTE episodes. In these cases, the infant may need
to stay at a hospital to be monitored. Or, the infant may be sent home on an
apnea monitor, a device that alerts the caregiver if the infant stops breathing.
If the underlying cause is a disease or condition that needs continuous
follow-up or treatment, treatment may be ongoing.
It may also be helpful for a caregiver to receive training in CPR before
leaving the hospital.
How is the condition monitored?
ALTE may not need any further monitoring once the infant leaves
the hospital. If the infant is healthy and there is no further concern regarding
the possibility of more ALTE episodes, monitoring can be done at home by
Sometimes an infant will be sent home with an apnea monitor.
This monitors the infant's breathing and alerts the caregiver to any further
ALTE episodes. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to