UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- A Union County mother, whose infant turned blue while she slept, is sharing her story after learning that the event is fairly common.
“I thought she was going to die,” said Kayla Roach.
Holding back tears as she held on tight to her newborn baby girl, Roach described the scariest moment of her life, when her 6-week-old daughter turned blue in her sleep.
“I snatched her up and I flipped her over and I just kind of gave a couple blows to the back and she woke up,” says Roach.
Roach says her daughter currently suffers from acid reflux, officially called Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD and says she’s been taking medication to help relieve her symptoms. Roach says she never thought to associate what happened to her daughter with GERD.
Roach said she instantly feared sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and rushed her daughter, Avalyn to the emergency room; however, tests showed the baby was fine. After a follow-up visit to her pediatrician, Roach says the doctor explained it was caused by acid reflux.
“The stomach acid often causes babies to hold their breath and have what is called a vagal event,” says Dr. Garnet Maharajh, a pediatrician with Novant Health.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says such events are somewhat common. They refer to them as a BRUE, or a brief unexplained event. They say, for most infants who appear well after such an episode, the risk of another life-threatening event or serious disorder is extremely low.
But for Roach, who suffered previous miscarriages, she spent the next 48 hours watching baby Avalyn like a hawk.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. I watched her all weekend, I didn’t really sleep. I either held her or she sat in front of me the entire weekend,” said Roach.
Doctors say GERD can be very scary for parents and very uncomfortable for babies, but that it can be treated and monitored.
“With medications, the babies do very well, usually they outgrow their reflux around the age of 18 months,” says Dr. Maharajh.