Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in Pediatrics



DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

December 2015


Intermittent hypoxia (IH) often occurs in early infancy in both preterm and term infants and especially at 36–44 weeks postmenstrual age. These episodes of IH could result from sleep-disordered breathing or may be temporally unrelated to apnea or bradycardia events. There are numerous reports indicating adverse effects of IH on development, behavior, academic achievement, and cognition in children with sleep apnea syndrome. It remains uncertain about the exact causative relationship between the neurocognitive and behavioral morbidities and IH and/or its associated sleep fragmentation. On the other hand, well-controlled and moderate IH conditioning/training has been used in sick children for treating their various forms of bronchial asthma, allergic dermatoses, autoimmune thyroiditis, cerebral palsy, and obesity. This review article provides an updated and impartial analysis on the currently available evidence in supporting either side of the seemingly contradictory scenarios. We wish to stimulate a comprehensive understanding of such a complex physiological phenomenon as intermittent hypoxia, which may be accompanied by other confounding factors (e.g., hypercapnia, polycythemia), in order to prevent or reduce its harmful consequences, while maximizing its potential utility as an effective therapeutic tool in pediatric patients.


Copyright © 2015 Serebrovskaya and Xi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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VCU Internal Medicine Publications