Cardiorespiratory events in infants with gastroesophageal reflux symptoms: Is there any association?

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Abstract

Background

Cardiorespiratory (CR) events (apnea, bradycardia, oxygen desaturation) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER) symptoms often coexist in infants admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, leading to over-prescription of drugs and delayed discharge. We aimed to evaluate the relationships between CR and GER events.

Methods

The temporal associations between CR and GER events were analyzed in symptomatic infants who underwent synchronized CR and pH-impedance monitoring. The symptom association probability (SAP) index was used to identify infants with a significant number of temporal associations. Gastroesophageal reflux characteristics and the chronological sequence of CR and GER events occurring within 30 seconds of each other were evaluated according to SAP index.

Key Results

Of the 66 infants enrolled, aged 29 (18-45) days, 58 had CR events during monitoring. From these 58 patients, a total of 1331 CR events and 5239 GER (24% acidic) were detected. The SAP index was positive in seven (12%) infants. These infants had greater GER frequency, duration, and proximal extent (P < .05). The number of temporal associations was 10 times greater in the positive SAP group. Gastroesophageal reflux events preceded CR events in 83% of these associations. These GER events had a higher proximal extent (P = .004), but showed no differences in pH values.

Conclusions & Inferences

The simultaneous evaluation of CR and GER events could be useful to identify infants with severe GER and significant temporal associations between these events. Treatment of GER could be indicated in these infants, but as the GER events involved are mainly non-acidic, empirical treatment with antacids is, often, inappropriate.

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