Apnea Monitor – Benefits, Risks and Safety Tips


Simply put, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that happens when a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during their slumber. If untreated, sleep apnea could cause excessively loud snoring, lethargy and fatigue during the time, and even more serious problems pertaining to the heart and blood pressure. If an individual snores loudly or feels very tired even after a full night’s sleep, they might have sleep apnea.

One thing many people forget about apnea is that it can also affect babies and young children. Quite understandably, sleep is crucial for a baby’s development. However, disorders like sleep apnea can affect newborns and infants, preventing them from getting the adequate amount of sleep required to thrive. If left untreated, severe sleep apnea during infancy has long-term repercussions on the health of a baby and can culminate in complications.

When it comes to adults, sleep apnea is comparatively easier to recognize and diagnose. However, the situation becomes challenging when babies are concerned. In such a context, high-tech devices like an infant apnea monitor come to the rescue. In this blog, we will delve into the what, why, and how of an apnea monitor so that you have a platter of comprehensive knowledge in handy.

What is an Apnea Monitor?

Simply put, an apnea monitor is a portable and wearable device that examines if a baby or an adult has uninterrupted breathing during their sleep. These devices help track the breathing of an infant of a grown person susceptible to respiratory failure. Medical experts recommend the use of an apnea monitor for infants, especially premature babies diagnosed with apnea. An infant apnea monitor is usually connected to the feet of the baby.

These devices contain sensors that measure various aspects of the body during sleep, such as movement, breathing, oxygen levels, and so forth. Each device also has a microcomputer that processes the data extracted to gauge whether the baby’s breathing has stopped. If this happens, the device rings an alarm that wakes up the parents or caretakers of the child.

Benefits of an Apnea Monitor

A home apnea monitor has several benefits, especially for infants and premature babies. These include –

  1. You Get Instant Notifications of Your Baby’s Breathing and Heart Rate
  2. An infant apnea monitor helps to invigilate your baby’s breathing mechanism and heart rate. If your newborn is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it becomes indispensable to check their respiratory health at all times. An apnea monitor alerts you if your baby’s heart rate drops or if there’s a prolonged breathing standstill. So, the alarm can notify you when your baby is experiencing apnea, which can curb serious issues and untoward incidents.

  3. Helps Understand if Your Child Has Apnea
  4. The apnea monitor indications also help to determine whether your child is apneic or not. The monitor will relay an alarm in case the baby stops breathing in their sleep, which is the most prominent sign of infant apnea. The device also provides critical readings of your baby’s heartbeat. As sleep apnea is quite common among babies and can affect any child, a monitor is a must-have precautionary tool for parents.

  5. Provides Parents Peace of Mind
  6. A premature baby, born before 37 weeks, has a greater risk of experiencing apnea. The sleep disorder is characterized by periods of shallow or no breathing. Other symptoms of infant sleep apnea include interruptions in breathing of 20 seconds and shorter interruptions coupled with a slow heart rate, bluish or pale skin and muscle weakness. When a newborn is suspected to have apnea, the parents always have to keep their guards on. However, apnea monitor indications can provide some relief and ensure that the caregivers of the newborn are not on their toes at all times.

  7. Prevents Overdiagnosis
  8. An infant apnea monitor can also help avoid overdiagnosis. Simply put, overdiagnosis happens when a precise discovery of a problem is not beneficial to the patient. A single false alarm may set off a chain of events. When a consumer apnea monitors alarms for low pulse oximetry, a parent may worry. Incorrect data interpretation may endanger the baby’s health and cost more.

Risks of Apnea Monitor

An apnea monitor comes with certain risks which need consideration. These include –

  1. Mild Skin Pain
  2. An apnea monitor can cause mild skin pain because of the electrodes being connected to your baby’s body. However, it is not a major concern considering the several other benefits of the device.

  3. Battery Backup Issues
  4. If your sleep apnea monitor is not fitted with a battery backup, it will not operate once you lose power or there is some electrical malfunction. Hence, it is important to consult your home health care provider to see if the apnea monitor has a battery backup system.

  5. Other Limitations
  6. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), apnea monitor indications might be susceptible to false readings. The platform cites that the ‘person’s heartbeat and nearby electrical devices’ might lead to false readings. Likewise, the American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests that home monitors should be used to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among babies. Instead, the newborn must be put on their backs or sides to sleep to reduce the scope of SIDS.

Safety Tips to Use A Sleep Apnea Monitor

After a comprehensive overview of a sleep apnea monitor, let us end the article by checking out some safety tips for the right usage of a monitor.

  • Do Not apply powders, lotions or body lotion to your baby’s skin before affixing the apnea monitor, as these products might interfere with the sensor;s ability to perform its function adequately.
  • Make sure that your baby sleeps on their back on a hard mattress.
  • If you see any sticky pads on display, remember to remove and replace them. However, do not change the sticky pads more often than what is recommended by the service provider.

Concluding Thoughts

So, there we have it, a crisp overview of an apnea monitor, its benefits, risks and safety tips.