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June 1987

Psychosocial Impact of Emergency Apnea

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(6):668-671. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460060084041

• The pathophyslology of "near miss" or "aborted" sudden infant death syndrome (better termed "emergency apnea") is unclear. Emotionally, however, such episodes are significantly stressful for parents. We administered a questionnaire to 50 families who had experienced emergency apnea at home. Sixty percent ranked the experience as one of the most difficult in their lives; 56% believed that the infant's death was averted only because they intervened. The psychodynamics are similar to those seen in families who have lost an infant to sudden infant death syndrome, and they are consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder. The affected Infants may be regarded as "vulnerable children." Many parents believed that their lives were permanently changed. Home apnea monitoring equipment and support from the family physician and monitoring program are important in reducing the stress associated with apneic emergencies.

(AJDC 1987;141:668-671)