Objective: To report longitudinal home recordings of hemoglobin O(2) saturation by pulse oximetry (Spo(2)) during unperturbed sleep in preterm and term infants.
Study design: We recorded continuous pulse oximetry during the first 3 minutes of each hour of monitor use (nonevent epochs) for 103 preterm infants born at <1750 g and ≤ 34 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA), and 99 healthy term infants.
Results: Median baseline Spo(2) was approximately 98% for both the preterm and term groups. Episodes of intermittent hypoxemia occurred in 74% of preterm and 62% of term infants. Among infants with intermittent hypoxemia, the number of seconds/hour of monitoring <90% Spo(2) was initially significantly greater in the preterm than the term group and declined with age at a similar rate in both groups. The 75(th) to 95(th) percentiles for seconds/hour of Spo(2) <90% in preterm infants were highest at 36 weeks PMA and progressively decreased until 44 weeks PMA, after which time they did not differ from term infants.
Conclusions: Clinically inapparent intermittent hypoxemia occurs in epochs unperturbed by and temporally unrelated to apnea or bradycardia events, especially in preterm infants at 36 to 44 weeks PMA.
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