What is SIDS?
What SIDS is Not
Apnea and Apparent Life-Threatening Events
Apnea of infancy is defined as an unexplained episode of cessation of breathing for 20 seconds or longer or a shorter respiratory pause associated with bradycardia, cyanosis, pallor and/or marked hypotonia.
An apparent life-threatening event, or ALTE, is defined as an episode that is frightening to the observer and is characterized by some combination of apnea (central or occasionally obstructive), color change (usually cyanotic or pallid but occasionally erythematous or plethoric), marked change in muscle tone (usually marked limpness) and choking or gagging. An infant will require significant intervention, such as vigorous shaking, mouthto- mouth breathing or full CPR, to be revived from an ALTE.86
During the 1970s, a suggestion was made for continuous cardiorespiratory monitoring at home to reduce the risk of SIDS.87 The hypothesis that apnea is a precursor to SIDS was first proposed in 1972, but it has never been proven.
In fact, evidence indicates that there is no clear relationship between apnea and SIDS. Despite the lack of a scientific foundation or evidence of efficacy, home cardiorespiratory monitoring continues to be a common practice in the United States.88