Relevance of the pH probe in sleep study analysis in infants

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To establish the relationship between sleep apnoea and gastro-oesophageal reflux in infants and describe the clinical, demographic and pHmetric profile and the characteristic of the sleep polysomnography with a pH probe.


A total of 102 consecutive patients were evaluated. Parents were requested to fill out a questionnaire about symptoms and previous therapy. Gastro-oesophageal reflux was considered abnormal when the percentage of time with pH less than 4 was higher than 4% of total sleep time.


A total of 102 infants were enrolled, 53% males. Seventy-four per cent of the infants were full-term babies. At the moment of the polysomnography, the mean age of the sample was 2.6 months. Suspicion of apnoea was the most common clinical diagnosis prior to the study. Only two infants have abnormal electroencephalogram. Mild gastro-oesophageal reflux was seen in 37 (36%) infants, while 22 (21.5%) did not have any reflux episode, and the remaining 43 (42%) infants had reflux index in the pathologic range. Only one patient had an unequivocal temporal relationship between acid oesophageal reflux and respiratory pause with oxygen desaturation.


Infants with history of apnoea or acute life threatening event frequently had gastro-oesophageal reflux episodes which did not correlated with respiratory events, suggesting that gastro-oesophageal reflux and apnoea often occur in the same infant as two separate events.

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