baby breathing monitor

When to Use a Baby Breathing Monitor

It is quite natural to be concerned about your newborn baby’s breathing, especially when not in the same room. This is one of the attractions of a baby breathing monitor. You can always be alerted if there is a problem with his breathing.


Most baby breathing monitors are designed so that an alarm is triggered if the baby stops breathing. More sophisticated models combine video and sound. For all their uses, there is no substitute for educating yourself on the various breathing difficulties that babies can suffer from. So if you are thinking of purchasing a baby breathing monitor, make sure to arm yourself with the following information as well.


Breathing Difficulties in the Newborn Baby

baby breathing monitor

Normal breathing usually starts within a few minutes of birth, when your baby still has the oxygen supply from the mother through the umbilical cord. Just a small minority of babies have problems breathing at this stage. Referred to as asphyxia, it relates to problems with breathing a baby has extending more than 2 minutes after birth. Only about one in 50 babies suffer with this problem. An even rarer baby breathing problem occurs due to a congenital heart condition which presents itself by the baby turning a blue colour. If your baby should suffer from this condition then he will be immediately placed on a baby breathing monitor in hospital among other devices, so that his treatment and condition can be assessed around the clock.


Asphyxia Upon Birth


This can be caused by foetal distress during labour but is usually not a problem for any length of time beyond a couple of minutes following birth. Some babies may need resuscitation if the problem persists and is quite severe. If there is this type of problem with breathing, baby may need certain forms of medication which rebalance the PH levels within the bloodstream.


Bacterial Infection


A very rare baby breathing problem can be pneumonia. There is a possibility with premature babies that an infection from the vagina may enter the uterus and from there reach the baby’s lungs. If the baby is unlucky enough to be infected with the chlamydia bacteria prior to being born then there could be a risk of pneumonia. If this is the case then the baby will undergo treatment using IV antibiotics and possibly artificial respiratory support until such time that the infection is gone. Again a baby breathing monitor will be used until the child is discharged, and then probably continued to be used on returning home. It is sometimes possible to hire a high end baby breathing monitor from hospitals in these circumstances.


Respiratory Distress Syndrome


A molecule is produced by the baby’s lungs 6 to 10 weeks before birth known as surfactant. This causes a baby’s lungs to open up when in contact with air. It also decreases surface tension in the baby’s airways in preparation for the baby breathing air. As it is produced 6 to 10 weeks before the normal due date, premature babies often lack surfactants in sufficient quantity, and this can lead to respiratory distress syndrome in these cases. Another reason that RDS could occur is if the baby has already suffered from some type of asphyxia or if the mother is diabetic. Diabetes can lead to problems in the lungs, as they can have difficulty expanding.


If your baby is unfortunate enough to suffer from respiratory distress syndrome then he will most probably be put into intensive care and have surfactant put into his lungs to aid breathing. If the baby is premature then he will probably also require additional oxygen in the incubator but in the case of severe RDS artificial ventilation will be required. Oxygen is provided via a tube placed into the trachea. In very rare cases where the baby is placed on a ventilator for more than a month it may be the case that after leaving hospital he will still require oxygen on returning home. Sadly, if this is the case and there is a long-term problem breathing, baby may have a lung disorder. In any of these situations, the infant will require a baby breathing monitor in hospital and most likely on discharge. Parents will be advised as to what equipment is suitable.


Transient Tachypnoea (TTN) in a Newborn Babies


First some statistics. TTN which can be present in 5% of full term babies, is 20 times more likely to occur if a baby is delivered by caesarean section or happens to be induced before term.


Inside the womb the baby’s lungs are full of liquid that is made by the cells inside her airway. This fluid is usually absorbed into the bloodstream as soon as the baby starts to breathe air. If for some reason this fluid is not absorbed properly then obviously the lungs will still be blocked to some extent. This causes the baby to breathe very fast and noisily in an attempt to clear the lungs. This is a natural survival instinct and the baby’s own body and strength usually deals with the problem within a few minutes. However, in some cases there may be a need to put the newborn in a special care baby unit where a host of ICU equipment including a baby breathing monitor will be used.


Hopefully the fluid in the lungs will be absorbed into the bloodstream after a few hours and the problem breathing baby was suffering with will go away. Sometimes, the baby will need to be put on a ventilator for up to 48 hours to fully clear the lungs. Again, doctors will advise on the use of a baby breathing monitor on returning the baby to the family home.


Using a Baby Breathing Monitor On Returning Home


If there are respiratory problems later on with breathing, baby will usually present one or two symptoms such as stopping to breathe altogether which is obviously the worst case or just noisy and strained breaths. A baby breathing monitor can alert you to this situation immediately.


Apnea


This is when your baby stops breathing altogether. If this happens you will likely be extremely scared and worried. This is one of the key problems that baby breathing monitors are designed to pick up. Irregular breathing is to be expected in babies up to 12 weeks old. However, if there is a pause between breaths of more than 20 seconds then this would be correctly diagnosed as apnea. This can often occur during sleep or if your baby happens to have a chest infection. It is a lot more likely to occur if your baby was born premature. Apnea can be caused also by other problems such as whooping cough.


If your baby experiences apnea it does not necessarily mean that she is going to die because as the levels of oxygen decrease in the brain a fainting reflex will kick in. What happens then is that your baby naturally relaxes and the air ways will relax too, which should result in normal breathing restarting. Sometimes when this happens the baby’s colour can change to very purple in the face or even blue or white. Obviously, if you have a baby breathing monitor installed, then hopefully you can be alerted and take action before conditions worsen. There does not seem to be an association between apnea and sudden infant death syndrome, but if you have any doubts and are extremely concerned and breathing is not returning to normal you should call for medical assistance immediately. In either case it would be best to inform your doctor or health visitor about your baby’s apnea, even if the child’s breathing returns to normal, in case further investigation is required. One of the benefits of a video based baby breathing monitor that has a record facility, is that you can actually show your doctor the episode at a later stage.


Do You Have a Noisy Breathing Baby?


In the event of a chest infection or asthma, this will often present itself as strained and noisy breathing. These are not the only causes. It could be that your baby is suffering from reflux. If you notice a month or two after birth that your baby is breathing squeakily or grunting, it could be the case that she has a floppy larynx, medically referred to as larygomalacia. There are usually no serious problems associated with floppy larynx. Even though it results in grunting and noisy breathing, baby should overcome this usually within two years. It occurs in approximately 10 per cent of infants. Rings of cartilage which maintain an opening in the baby’s airways can sometimes have too much flexibility and this is what causes this particular difficulty in breathing. Sometimes it can cause problems with feeding which then could have a knock on effect of stunted development if your baby is not getting the required nutrition. In extremely rare cases, where there is squeaky and laboured breathing, baby could have an underlying heart condition.


When to Seek Medical Advice


If you have a noisy breathing baby and it appears that it is having severe problems taking in breath and especially if her skin has changed colour then you should seek urgent medical attention. You should do the same, if your baby is constantly coughing or wheezing as well as there could be an underlying infection that may need a course of antibiotic treatment. It could also be the case that your baby has asthma.


There is also the possibility that the baby could have swallowed or rather inhaled some kind of solid object. This is very dangerous as it could choke the baby. If this should happen while you are asleep, a baby breathing monitor could be invaluable in saving the child’s life.


Once you get your baby to a doctor he will examine her just as he would an adult by listening to the way that she breathes and examining the larynx to see if there is any inflammation or signs of infection. The doctor may then decide whether or not there is a need for additional tests to detect a more serious problem.


In some cases it may be that your baby needs to have a chest X ray to see whether her heart and lungs are working properly. Sometimes an ECG (echocardiogram) test will be required. Body fluid may also be taken to test for any infections. Sometimes fits can cause severe breathing problems and if this is the case then the doctor will medicate appropriately.


If the doctor suspects stomach reflux then he may resort to a barium swallow X ray. He could also use a fibre optic telescope that can be inserted into the nose to investigate inside the airways and lungs.


Seeking Medical Advice for Apnea


If your baby stops breathing then you can use the resuscitation ABC procedure immediately whilst also calling for help. Again, this is another instance where a baby breathing monitor could prove priceless. In these cases where there is severe problems breathing, baby will be admitted to hospital where medical professionals can carry out all the necessary observations. A thorough investigation into the underlying causes of your baby’s breathing difficulties and medical history will also be undertaken by the medical team.


A very dangerous situation can occur if there is insufficient oxygen reaching your baby’s brain. The doctors will monitor the oxygen levels in your baby’s blood to ascertain whether this is the case or not as it can lead to brain damage and other problems.


It is also likely that your baby will be tested for anaemia and any infections. Whooping cough is often the cause of severe breathing difficulties in babies.


It is quite likely that your baby will also be tested for any heart conditions and also the possibility of a reflux.


On leaving hospital you’ll be given advice on what to look out for in the future, and appointments will most likely be made for follow-up assessments. In some instances of severe problem breathing, baby and mother will both be checked to see if there is any cross infection possibilities or genetic conditions. In these type of circumstances, your doctor might well insist on the use of a baby breathing monitor if there is likely to be future occurrences of apnea and other related breathing problems.