Apnea, Intermittent Hypoxemia, and Bradycardia Events Predict Late-Onset Sepsis in Infants Born Extremely Preterm

The Prematurity-Related Ventilatory Control (Pre-Vent) Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the association of cardiorespiratory events, including apnea, periodic breathing, intermittent hypoxemia (IH), and bradycardia, with late-onset sepsis for extremely preterm infants (<29 weeks of gestational age) on vs off invasive mechanical ventilation. Study design: This is a retrospective analysis of data from infants enrolled in Pre-Vent (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT03174301), an observational study in 5 level IV neonatal intensive care units. Clinical data were analyzed for 737 infants (mean gestational age: 26.4 weeks, SD 1.71). Monitoring data were available and analyzed for 719 infants (47 512 patient-days); of whom, 109 had 123 sepsis events. Using continuous monitoring data, we quantified apnea, periodic breathing, bradycardia, and IH. We analyzed the relationships between these daily measures and late-onset sepsis (positive blood culture >72 hours after birth and ≥5-day antibiotics). Results: For infants not on a ventilator, apnea, periodic breathing, and bradycardia increased before sepsis diagnosis. During times on a ventilator, increased sepsis risk was associated with longer events with oxygen saturation <80% (IH80) and more bradycardia events before sepsis. IH events were associated with higher sepsis risk but did not dynamically increase before sepsis, regardless of ventilator status. A multivariable model including postmenstrual age, cardiorespiratory variables (apnea, periodic breathing, IH80, and bradycardia), and ventilator status predicted sepsis with an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.783. Conclusion: We identified cardiorespiratory signatures of late-onset sepsis. Longer IH events were associated with increased sepsis risk but did not change temporally near diagnosis. Increases in bradycardia, apnea, and periodic breathing preceded the clinical diagnosis of sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114042
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Aug 2024


  • apnea
  • bradycardia
  • intermittent hypoxia
  • neonatal late-onset sepsis
  • prematurity


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