Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Children Oxygen Saturation
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Children Oxygen Saturation

What is the normal oxygen saturation for a child while sleeping? How much should it be allowed to fall before steps are taken to address it?
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During sleep, infants, children and adults exhibit a mild reduction in ventilation, resulting in a slight rise in carbon dioxide level and a corresponding fall in the oxygen partial pressure (this pressure is directly related to but is not the same as saturation).  

This is normal and of no clinical significance.  The fall in oxygen pressure may normally be accompanied by a trivial fall (or no change) in oxygen saturation.

Normal sleep normal oxygen saturations are maintained in the low-mid-upper 90% range.  Brief, infrequent falls in saturation into the low 90% range is not worrisome.  Sustained falls in oxygen saturation to 90% or below warrant further investigation, especially when accompanied by long pauses between breaths (apnea).

Also, before “..steps are taken to address it” the cause must be determined.

My best advice is that if you are at all concerned about your child’s sleep breathing pattern or have documented a fall in oxygen saturation to 91-92% or below, you should discuss this with his/her pediatrician.  Clinically significant sleep disordered breathing  in children is uncommon but definitely not rare.

Good luck
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