Apnoea of prematurity: causes, treatment, prevention consequences and genetic basis

  • Barbara Bobik Department of Research and Education, General Hospital Celje, Celje, Slovenia
  • Štefan Grosek Department of Perinatology, Division of Gynaecology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Lilijana Kornhauser Cerar Department of Perinatology, Division of Gynaecology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Keywords: premature, respiration disorders, continuous positive airway pressure, caffeine, genetic predisposition


Apnoea (or apnoeic attacks, pauses) of prematurity is one of the most common diagnoses in neonatal intensive care units. Apnoeic attacks are transient in nature and are caused by a disruption in the adaptation of the respiratory centre and respiratory system to extrauterine life and immaturity of the receptors that detect partial oxygen and carbon dioxide pressure. They significantly prolong the duration of hospitalisation and have potentially adverse long-term consequences.
In our review article, apnoeic attacks of prematurity are defined. We present the classification, epidemiology, pathophysiological background and cardiorespiratory monitoring of premature infants. We describe how to diagnose apnoea of prematurity, secondary causes of apnoea, and differential diagnostic options, as well as some conditions that are associated with apnoea of prematurity. A large part of the article is dedicated to presenting possible therapeutic measures, including those that have not yet been implemented in general clinical practice as further research is needed to confirm their efficacy. The final part of the article provides an overview of the research on the genetic basis of apnoea of prematurity, and the presentation of their results.


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Author Biographies

Štefan Grosek, Department of Perinatology, Division of Gynaecology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Department of Perinatology, Division of Gynaecology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Department of Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, Division of Surgery, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Lilijana Kornhauser Cerar, Department of Perinatology, Division of Gynaecology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Univerzitetni klinični center Ljubljana, Ginekološka klinika, KO za perinatologijo, Enota za intenzivno nego in terapijo novorojenčkov, Šlajmerjeva 4, 1000 Ljubljana


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How to Cite
Bobik B, Grosek Štefan, Kornhauser Cerar L. Apnoea of prematurity: causes, treatment, prevention consequences and genetic basis. ZdravVestn [Internet]. 10Mar.2020 [cited 6Apr.2020];89(1-2):39-4. Available from: https://vestnik.szd.si/index.php/ZdravVest/article/view/2919

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