The respiratory rate is quite possibly the most important medical marker there is. Because disruptions in breathing need not simply be an indicator of respiratory illness. There is substantial evidence that alterations in respiratory rate can be used to predict potentially serious clinical events, such as cardiac arrest.
Respiratory rates in babies
Respiratory rate is simply the number of breaths a baby takes per minute. Normal respiration rates for infants, at rest, ranges from 25-40 breaths per minute. An increase in the number of breaths per minute indicates that the baby is having trouble breathing or isn’t getting enough oxygen. Here’s a glossary of breathing terms you’d want to be familiar with; they could indicate respiratory disorders:
- Periodic breathing: Slow breathing followed by rapid breathing and a pause before breathing resumed. The pause shouldn’t be longer than 10 sec.
- Rapid breathing: More than 60 breaths a minute constitutes rapid breathing. If it’s been caused by a crying fit, it should stabilize when baby stops crying. A case of continuous rapid breathing is a cause for concern.
- Retracting: The chest is being pulled in at the ribs, a sign that baby is having trouble taking in air.
- Grunting: Sound made when baby is trying to keep air in its lungs. Sign that they are having trouble breathing.
- Coughing: A cough is harmless if it’s because the baby may have swallowed milk too soon. But a persistent cough needs to be checked for any underlying problem.
- Flared nostrils: A baby whose struggling to breathe will flare their nostril with every inhalation, to try and take in more air.
- Cyanosis: If the baby turns blue around the mouth or fingernails or on the inside of the lips, it’s a sign that they are not getting enough air, indicating heart defects or respiratory problems.
- Wheezing: A whistling sound made while breathing is a wheeze, caused by inflammation or obstruction of the airways. It’s often associated with asthma.
Sleep Apnea in Babies
This is a sleep-related breathing disorder where there are pauses in breathing. Complete pause in breathing is called apnea and in infants, it’s frequent during the REM sleep. Snoring, breathing through the mouth in sleep and pauses in breathing are all symptoms of apnea. It’s common among preterm babies, especially those with low birth weight.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Also known as Crib or Cot Death, it occurs in infants below 1 year, and continues to baffle doctors about its cause. It claims over a 1000 infants in the US every year and has been a topic of concern over the last decade or two. There are no symptoms leading to SIDs so there’s little one can do to prevent it.
How can a baby monitor help?
Have you ever watched your baby’s chest to count the number of breaths they are taking every minute, or kept your hand to keep your worries under control? Ask any parent if they have ever kept a finger under their infant’s nose, just to be sure they’re breathing okay. Some may call it paranoia but all parents will agree that it’s impossible not to worry about the baby and it’s better to worry a little excessively than be sorry. Tracking respiration rate is one of the key features of raybaby. Find out more here.