Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Behavioral Science

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Giannone

Second Advisor

Dr. Yang Jiang


Intermittent hypoxemia (IH) is defined as episodic drops in oxygen saturation (SpO2). Virtually all preterm infants have IH events. Extremely preterm infants have hundreds of IH events per day. The extent of IH is not apparent clinically as accurately documenting cardiorespiratory events for day-to-day patient care management is challenging. High resolution pulse oximeters with 2 second averaging time are currently the ideal methods to measure IH. We have developed novel methods and processes to accurately and efficiently calculate an IH profile that reflects to spectrum of the problem.

The natural progression of IH is dynamic. There is low incidence of IH in the few 2 weeks of life, followed by a progressive increase until peak IH at 4-5 week after which IH plateaus. Multiple factors place preterm infants at high risk for increased IH. These factors include respiratory immaturity, lung disease, and anemia. We also show that preterm infants prenatally exposed to opioids or inflammation (due to maternal chorioamnionitis) have increased IH measures compared to unexposed infants. Interestingly, the increased IH in the exposed groups persists beyond the immediate postnatal period.

Brief episodes of oxygen desaturations may seem clinically insignificant; however, these events may have a cumulative effect on neonatal outcomes. There is mounting evidence from both animal models and clinical studies suggesting that IH is associated with injury and poor outcomes such as impaired growth, retinopathy of prematurity and neurodevelopmental impairment. In addition data from neonatal animal models and adults with obstructive sleep apnea suggest that IH is pro inflammatory itself. We demonstrate in this document for the first time in preterm infants that IH is associated with increased serum inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein.

Finally, a valuable experience throughout this process is working with a talented and dedicated multidisciplinary team. We are a solid example of the value of team science during this new era of clinical and translational research. Our respiratory control research program is one of handful programs nationwide able to perform such high-fidelity studies related to cardiorespiratory events in preterm infants. We will continue to tackle complex questions involving health of infants.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)