, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 219-224

Infant apnea and gastroesophageal reflux: A critical review and framework for further investigation

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Abstract

Gastroesophageal reflux and apnea of prematurity are both common occurrences in premature infants. However, a causal relationship between the two remains controversial. Strong physiologic evidence indicates that a variety of protective reflex responses may elicit laryngeal adduction and apnea. Although a potential link between gastroesophageal reflux and apnea may exist through this pathway, clinical studies can be cited to either support or refute such a link in premature infants. The majority of gastroesophageal reflux episodes do not appear to be related to apnea. In a specific subset of events, a causal relationship may exist. Whether this is related to the character of the reflux episode or to a predisposition in a subpopulation of infants is unclear. This review presents the evidence for and against an association between gastroesophageal reflux and apnea, discusses techniques used in their evaluation, and identifies approaches for future investigation.