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

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

How is the condition diagnosed?

The diagnosis of ALTE begins with a thorough physical exam and a full medical history. The infant may appear fine and healthy. Various lab tests will usually be normal.

The healthcare provider will want information on how the baby was before and after the episode. He or she will ask a variety of questions including:

  • Were there any signs of illness before or after the episode, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, rapid or labored breathing, rapid heartbeat, or slow heartbeat?
  • Does the infant breast-feed or take a bottle? Does the infant eat quickly? Is there any choking or spitting up?
  • Has the infant been exposed to any toxic substances or poisons?
  • Is there any family history of sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS), death in infancy, or genetic disorders?
  • How active does the infant usually seem?
  • Does the infant have a painful or high-pitched cry?
  • How long did the ALTE seem to last?
  • Were there any abnormal movements of the arms, legs, or eyes during the episode?
  • If the infant appears ill, a variety of lab tests may be done to find the underlying cause of the ALTE. The tests done depend on the infant's symptoms. For example, a spinal tap may be done on an infant who has an episode of ALTE along with a fever in order to test for meningitis, a serious infection. If a heart murmur is heard, further cardiac testing may be done, such as an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram. A chest X-ray may be done if the doctor suspects pneumonia or whooping cough.

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    Apparent Life-Threatening Event: Symptoms & Signs


    Apparent Life-Threatening Event: Prevention & Expectations

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

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