Learning About a Brief Resolved Unexplained Event (BRUE) in Infants

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What is it?

A brief resolved unexplained event (BRUE) is a sudden change in how your baby breathes, looks, or responds. For example, your baby may start to have trouble breathing, or your baby's skin may turn blue or pale. It can be scary to see this happen. But the change is brief—usually less than a minute—and your baby quickly gets better.

Why a BRUE (say "broo") happens isn't known. It can't be explained by another problem, such as an illness, infection, or injury.

In most cases after a BRUE, your baby doesn't need tests or a stay in the hospital.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a BRUE start and end suddenly.

During a BRUE, your baby may:

  • Turn blue or pale around the face, belly, or back.
  • Have trouble breathing, like breathing too slowly or too quickly.
  • Become stiff or floppy in their body.
  • Seem too sleepy or pass out (lose consciousness).

How is it diagnosed?

A BRUE usually isn't diagnosed with testing. Instead, to find out if your baby had a BRUE, the doctor will:

  • Ask about the changes you saw in your baby.
  • Do a physical exam.
  • Ask about your baby's health and the health of family members.

If the doctor can't find a cause for your baby's symptoms, then your baby is diagnosed with a BRUE.

How can you care for your infant at home?

Work with your doctor to make a plan that keeps your baby healthy, happy, and safe.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Be sure to go to all follow-up appointments.
  • Learn how to do CPR and rescue breathing. It's important to know this in case your baby stops breathing. To find a CPR course near you, call your local hospital or the local branch of the Red Cross or American Heart Association.
  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back, not on their side or tummy. Put your baby in a crib or bassinet in your bedroom for the first 6 months. Keep soft items like stuffed animals, pillows, and blankets out of the crib. Use a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. Don't use sleep positioners, head-shaping pillows, or bumper pads.
  • Make sure that your baby gets regular checkups and recommended vaccines to protect against serious illness.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your baby may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your baby has blue lips.
  • Your baby turns blue or pale around the face, belly, or back.
  • Your baby is stiff or limp and floppy.
  • Your baby doesn't respond at all to being held, touched, or talked to.
  • Your baby is hard to wake up.
  • Your baby has severe trouble breathing. The nostrils flare and the belly moves in and out with every breath.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your baby has trouble breathing. For example, breathing is faster or slower than usual.
  • Your baby has a temperature over 100.4°F (38°C).
  • Your baby vomits repeatedly or has diarrhea.
  • Your baby seems too sleepy or sick.
  • Your baby has a new rash.
  • Your baby isn't feeding well.
  • Your baby is making fewer wet diapers than expected.
  • Your baby cries in a strange way or for an unusually long time.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.