Apparent Life-Threatening Event, Pediatric

Craig DeWolfe Reviewed 06/2017



  • Apparent life-threatening event (ALTE) is an episode that is frightening to the observer and is characterized by some combination of the following:

    • Apnea: central or occasionally obst...



ALTE is a symptom complex rather than a diagnosis. The practitioner should therefore attempt to identify an underlying diagnosis to explain the presentation. 


A full, uninterrupte...


Inpatient Considerations

  • Hospital admission is not necessary if the patient is well-appearing and has a self-limited diagnosis to explain the presentation. Admission criteria would include th...

Ongoing Care

  • All patients should be offered the following anticipatory guidance:

    • Safe sleep practices and other SIDS prevention techniques

    • CPR overview

Follow-up Recommendations

  • Return to medical attentio...

Additional Reading

  • DeWolfe  CC. Apparent life-threatening event: a review. Pediatr Clin North Am.  2005;52(4):1127–1146. [View Abstract]

  • National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Confere...



  • 799.82 Apparent life threatening event in infant

  • 770.82 Other apnea of newborn

  • 770.83 Cyanotic attacks of newborn

  • 784.99 Other symptoms involving head and neck


  • R68.13 Apparent life threate...


  • Q: What is the relationship between ALTE and SIDS?

  • A: There is no established relationship between ALTE and SIDS. The use of the terms “near-miss SIDS” and “aborted crib death” are discouraged. 4–1...

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