BRUE – Brief resolved unexplained event in infants

BRUE – Brief resolved unexplained event in infants

There would be nothing more terrifying than seeing your baby go unresponsive, pale and floppy in your arms and having no idea what has caused it or what to do. 

A brief, resolved, unexplained event (referred to as a BRUE) is an event that occurs in babies under 1 year of age, typically last less than a minute and is characterised by an acute change of colour, muscle tone and responsiveness before returning to a normal state.  These events never have a cause established and can be a cause of great anxiety for new parents. 

It is thought that the most common likely cause of these events is from exaggerated airway reflexes in the setting of feeding, reflux, or increased upper airway secretions (such as crying). Unsafe sleeping practices and exposure to cigarette smoke have also been theorised as a main cause of these events. 

Though we can never say that a baby who has had a BRUE is at no risk of future problems, we can say that babies are at lower risk if:

  • They are older than 60 days.
  • They were born on time (not premature).
  • They did not need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by a health care professional.
  • The BRUE lasted less than 1 minute.
  • This was the baby’s only such event.

There is some good news though and that is that the association between Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) and BRUE remains to be clarified. Current evidence is that there is minimal risk of subsequent SUDI after a BRUE-like event

If your child experiences a BRUE, here are some important tips to remember.

  1. Don’t shake your baby to try and generate a response! It is important to stay calm and not to panic as panic can sometimes lead to shaking the baby to get them to breath. Shaking can cause permanent brain damage or blindness.
  2. Generate spontaneous breathing through verbal stimulation (by speaking their name loudly) or painful stimulation (gently squeezing the trapezius muscle). 
  3. Get help coming. Phone 000 and go through your basic life support DRSABCD as directed by the care taker.
  4. Learn CPR. Finally, make sure you have learnt how to perform CPR on your baby! If your baby’s symptoms do not resolve, then the episode if no longer classified as a BRUE.  Ensure you have the skills to resuscitate your child by learning baby first aid today!

You can book a baby first aid class with Rescueblue by clicking here.