Although early hospital discharge of infants can be both cost-effective and better for developmental care and parent-infant bonding, neonatal caregivers need to ensure infant safety. One of the concerns of early discharge is the risk that premature babies may continue to have apnea, bradycardia, and oxygen desaturation after discharge and that these events can be serious enough to increase morbidity and mortality. The discharging provider bears the responsibility of assessing each infant's risk for persistent apnea and providing the care and monitoring appropriate for his presumed risk level. Presently there is no universally accepted testing method that can accurately predict which infants will experience significant apnea. Neonatal sleep studies are one of the objective methods being evaluated to identify infants at risk for persistent apnea. This article addresses arguments for and against the use of sleep studies to determine the risk of apnea in neonates about to be discharged, types of sleep studies and what they test, and how sleep studies can be useful in determining infant care.
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