American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASHA Glossary: Apnea

A pause in breathing that lasts for 15–20 seconds or is accompanied by a slow heart rate (bradycardia) or a change in skin color. Apnea is common among preterm infants, who have immature control of their breathing. Central Apnea is caused by Central Nervous System (CNS) problems and is characterized by an absence of respiratory gas flow and no respiratory effort. Obstructive Apnea is caused by an anatomic/physiologic problem and is characterized by continual respiratory effort but no respiratory gas flow. Mixed Apnea is a combination of central and obstructive apnea.

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