In this section
Note: This guideline is currently under review.
is the absence of breathing in a neonate for a period of >15 seconds often
associated with bradycardia and/or desaturation. Apnoea is a common occurrence
in preterm neonates that is often due to idiopathic apnoea of prematurity. Both
preterm and term neonates may have apnoea related to underlying illness or pain.
There are 3 types of apnoea, central, obstructive and mixed, all of which
present differently. Potential causes or exacerbating factors need to be
considered and identified/or excluded.
The aim of this guideline is to ensure that health care providers are aware of:
This guideline relates to the management of neonatal apnoea and will apply to neonates being nursed on Butterfly and on the wards at RCH. If older infants and children are apnoeic, a MET call should be made immediately.
The most common cause of apnoea is apnoea of prematurity; the incidence depends on the neonate's gestational age.
Short episodes of apnoea are usually central whereas prolonged ones are often mixed.
Periodic breathing may be mistaken for apnoea. Apnoea may be a symptom of seizure activity.
Ensure all episodes are clearly documented within the EMR observation flowsheet to reflect the time of the event. Select yes on the Apnoea and Bradycardia row and complete the relevant information. Include the intervention that was required to correct them.
You can view the evidence table for this guideline here: Apnoea (Neonates) Evidence Table
Please remember to
read the disclaimer
The revision of this nursing guideline was coordinated by Jaimee Musial, RN, Butterfly Ward, and approved by the Nursing Clinical Effectiveness Committee. Updated February 2023.