Premature Infant CPAP Masks

Premature Infant CPAP Masks

This post was originally posted on January 13, 2014, and updated on January 11, 2024. 

The use of CPAP masks and various forms of CPAP therapy delivery is becoming the accepted practice in pediatric medicine. This is particularly true with preterm infants with some form of respiratory disorder, which is a fairly common problem. For these newborns, infant CPAP masks are gaining popularity as a non-invasive respiratory support mechanism. 

Why Would My Premature Baby Need A CPAP Mask? 

Sleep Apnea of Prematurity 

Apnea of prematurity occurs when newborns, especially those born prematurely, stop breathing for short periods. Apnea can be caused by immaturity of the brain and weakness of the muscles that keep the airway open. At times, additional stresses in a premature baby — including infection, heart or lung problems, low blood count, low oxygen levels, temperature problems, feeding problems, and overstimulation — may also worsen sleep apnea. 

The baby may also experience a drop in the heart rate, known as bradycardia. The baby may or may not have associated poor color and an appearance of not looking well. 

Respiratory Distress Syndrome 

Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) occurs in babies born early (premature) whose lungs are not fully developed. The earlier the infant is born, the more likely it is for them to have RDS and need extra oxygen and help to breathe. 

RDS is caused by the baby not having enough surfactant in the lungs. Surfactant is a liquid made in the lungs at about 26 weeks of pregnancy. As the fetus grows, the lungs make more surfactant. The air sacs must be open to allow oxygen to enter the blood from the lungs and carbon dioxide to be released from the blood into the lungs.  

What Does an Infant CPAP Mask for Premature Babies Look Like? 

An infant CPAP mask is designed to fit the smaller head shape and face size of premature babies. Also, the mask uses nasal prongs to be inserted into the infant’s nostrils to reduce skin irritation. 

Researchers have also been experimenting with using a helmet to administer CPAP to infants. So far, the results are promising. One small study found infant CPAP helmets were better tolerated and had a lower risk of leaks and skin sores than traditional CPAP masks. 

Ideal Infant CPAP Masks  

Philips Respironics Wisp Pediatric Nasal CPAP Mask 

Philips Respironics Wisp Pediatric CPAP Nasal Mask (close up)

CPAP therapy for children can be difficult. As a result, designers at Philips Respironics created a nasal mask that helps make CPAP a fun and comfortable experience for younger patients. Comfort and performance are combined with a whimsical design that kids love. This mask gives CPAP therapy a fun and friendly approach so that children will be more susceptible to it.

Make every bedtime CPAP compliant for your child with the Philips Respironics Wisp Pediatric CPAP Mask - made just for kids. Respironics took the familiar design of its popular Wisp mask and minimized it for kids, giving them an unhindered sight to engage in bedtime activities such as playing with their tablet or toys or reading bedtime stories with ease. Children who wear glasses will love the low-profile design.

ResMed Pixi Pediatric Mask 

ResMed Pixi Pediatric Mask

ResMed has partnered with pediatric health experts to bring you the Pixi – a pediatric mask designed with children 2 years and older and their families in mind. The Pixi incorporates several comfort and safety features to provide the most positive therapy experience for you and your child.  

The design is uniquely constructed using the anthropometric data of children aged two and older and offers unobtrusive, adjustable headgear designed especially for children. The design also considers the bone structure, facial characteristics, and skin sensitivity of children to minimize pressure on soft faces. It includes a comfortable, single-walled cushion to reduce pressure on the face, resulting in a more comfortable therapy. Additionally, the tubing is lightweight that moves with children as they sleep for better treatment and less distractions.

Drawbacks of CPAP Masks for Premature Babies  

When discussing the need for CPAP with premature babies, it's also necessary to explain the risks. Speak to your doctor about the potential issues that can arise with the use of CPAP therapy for very young children. The potential complications associated with CPAP include: 

  • Chronic lung disease (CLD) 
  • Gastric distention ("CPAP belly") 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux 
  • Nasal damage 
  • Oral feeding delays 
  • Preventing physical contact with parents and caregivers 

One apparatus, the bubble CPAP (b-CPAP), which provides a heated, humidified gas mixture to the infant, is associated with a notable reduction in chronic lung disease, one of the more serious complications of CPAP in babies. Every medical treatment comes with some risks, but the benefits of CPAP for infants who need it far outweigh these risks. 

For additional information on various topics concerning sleep apnea and CPAP products, please refer to our blog. It updates constantly and also offers free advice and information. If you’d like to learn more about the quality sleep apnea products we carry, call us at (866) 414-9700. Or, you can contact us through our website. 

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.