Normal and Abnormal Breathing Patterns in Children
Younger ones may breathe fast or slow
In general, young infants breathe much faster than older children and adults. The regular breathing rate of a newborn baby is between 40 and 60 breaths a minute. Sometimes the respiratory rate may slow down 40 or even 30 breaths per minute when the baby is sleeping. Calm down mom, it’s normal! It’s normal for the breathing pattern of a child to vary that widely. Infants, especially in the first few months of life, may breathe faster several times, followed by a brief rest for less than 10 seconds, then the breathing resumes with no external stimulation. This is called periodic breathing and is seen in premature infants as well as newborns.
Babies use their diaphragm which is the large muscle below their lungs for breathing.
Abnormal Breathing Patterns/Respiratory problems are:
This is when newborn baby’s breaths progressively faster and deeper, then slower, and shallower which is a regular occurrence.
Rapid and irregular breathing is seen when they are hot or agitated
Newborns breathe rapidly more than 60 breaths per minute often especially when crying or feeding. It is normal for a baby who is overheated, upset, and crying to breathe rapidly with a respiratory rate of over 60 breath per minute which should slow down when the baby stops crying get claim and comfortable. Nonstop rapid breathing is a sign of a major problem. Seek assistance with a quick call to the clinic (470-485-6342) or come into clinic.
A pause in breathing for more than 10 seconds should make us suspect serious illness and if longer than 20 seconds, it is called apnoeic breathing. In such cases, do not hesitate to call 911. Ensure that the infant is stimulated to wake up and take breaths. If this is not happening despite stimulation, commence resuscitation.
If the baby is having trouble taking in enough air, you may notice that the nostrils seem to expand a little bit with each breath. That is called nasal flaring. The nostrils widen with each episode of breathing in. Such a baby needs medical attention immediately.
Sometimes, coughing or choking can occur when a baby takes in milk too quick with feedings. When this gets Persistent with every feed, it may indicate a breathing problem and should be examined by the child’s health care provider.
We see this in children who are having serious challenges exchanging air. When this happens the spaces between the ribs get sucked in with every breath and it is visible to the parent. In fact sometimes the indrawing of the spaces is so intense that even the spaces at the top of the shoulders behind the collarbone may be visibly drawing in also. This baby will need immediate medical attention as this is one of the classic signs of pneumonia or other serious lung infection or problem.
Steps to make sure you baby is breathing regularly are:
Listen: In order to listen for a normal breathing is to put your ear close to your child’s nose and mouth and listen for sounds of breath. Put your ear close to your child’s nose and mouth and listen for sounds of breath.
Look: Bend down close to the child’s chest, and watch for the rise and fall movement of the chest during breathing.
Feel: Put your cheek close to the baby’s mouth or nose and feel for tiny breaths against the skin.
If all these are not reassuring, feel free to call us immediately and we will be happy to see your child in our clinic or send your child to the nearest emergency room.
What are your thoughts about children’s problems and the challenges parents face dealing with them?
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Omega Pediatrics Difference: At Omega Pediatrics in Roswell, Georgia we understand the challenges that parents face when their children develop symptoms late in the day or after hours. Many pediatric offices are closed after 4 pm however we are open every weekday up to 9 pm for walk-ins and we have telemedicine via evisits for our known patients. Our clinic is one of the easily accessible pediatric primary care clinics in Roswell and Alpharetta. We provide pediatric primary care to families in the North Fulton area and we have families that live in Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Duluth and Cumming.
Immunizations after-hours: One advantage of switching to Omega Pediatrics for your child’s primary care is that you can bring your child in for immunization after regular business hours. We provide this service because we have the passion for what we do and we want to be a comfortable and convenient service, not the ordinary pediatric doctor’s office.