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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Apparent Life-Threatening Event: Treatment & Monitoring

Apparent Life-Threatening Event

Alternate Names : Apnea Spell, Infant Apnea, Acute Life-Threatening Episode, ALTE

Apparent Life-Threatening Event | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

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 and CPR.

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 allergic reaction. Surgery poses a risk for infection, bleeding, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.

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 sent home.
  • 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 the caregiver.

    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 the doctor.

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    Apparent Life-Threatening Event: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Lama Rimawi, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/13/01

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