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Apnea of Prematurity

  1. Richard J. Martin,
  2. Christopher G. Wilson

Published Online: 1 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100021

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Martin, R. J. and Wilson, C. G. 2012. Apnea of Prematurity. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:2923–2931.

Author Information

  1. Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 OCT 2012


Apnea of prematurity is a significant problem due to immaturity of the central neural control circuitry responsible for integrating afferent input and central rhythm. In this review, we provide an overview of the pathogenesis of apnea of prematurity—including our current understanding of the role that afferent input to the brain stem plays in synergy with the central pattern generation circuitry in the emergence of apnea of prematurity. We then discuss the interplay of apnea, bradycardia, desaturation, as well as the genesis of central, mixed, and obstructive apnea. Finally, we provide a summary of the physiological basis for current therapeutic approaches to treating apnea of prematurity, and conclude with an overview of proposed long-term consequences of the resultant intermittent hypoxic episodes. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:2923-2931, 2012.