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Infant Airway and Lungs  

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Definition  

An apparent life-threatening event (ALTE) is a set of symptoms in an infant that cause the caregiver to believe the child may be dying or has died. It may include disturbed breathing, change in color, choking or gagging. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be needed at the time of the event.

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Causes  

The cause of ALTE is not always clear. Some likely causes of ALTE may include:

  • Digestive problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Neurological problems, such as a seizure disorder or problems with the breathing center in the brain
  • Respiratory problems, such as lung infection or something blocking the airway
  • Infections
  • Heart problems, such as an abnormal heartbeat
  • Problems with the endocrine system, which includes the glands and hormones
  • Metabolic problems, such as hypoglycemia
  • Child abuse
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Risk Factors  

Boys and babies younger than 1 year of age are at higher risk of ALTE. Other factors that may increase an infant’s risk of ALTE include:

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Symptoms  

Symptoms may include:

  • Breathing that stops
  • Changes in skin color—blue, red, or pale
  • Change in muscle tone—floppy or tense
  • Choking
  • Gagging
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Diagnosis  

The doctor will ask about your baby’s symptoms and medical history, including what you noticed in the time leading up to the ALTE. A physical and neurological exam will be done. Your child's condition may need to be observed short term in the hospita