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Apnoea of prematurity

Apnoea of prematurity refers to cessation of breathing for more than 20 seconds in a premature child. It can be defined also as cessationof breathing less than 20 seconds that is associated with Cyanosis and or Bradycardia or oxygen saturation less than 80 percent in room air in neonates born at less than 37 weeks of gestation and with no underlying disorders causing apnea


Non Pharmacological treatment


  • Do tactile stimulation eg gently taps to the sole of the foot or rubbing in the back

  • Give high flow oxygen or CPAP

Pharmacological treatment


  • Give loading dose of aminophylline IV is 6mg/kg over 20 minutes followed​by maintenance of 2mg/kg 6 hourly OR

  • Give loading dose of caffeine citrate IV 20mg stat then 2.5mg/kg 12 hourly for 24hrs



Use an apnoea monitor if available if not available a pulse oximeter should be used.

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Last updated on 22.08.2020


  1. MSD professional manual. Apnea of prematurity. August 22.02.2020

  2. Tanzania standard treatment guideline edition 2017. page 54

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