New parents should know about a silent yet scary condition that can occur in infants.
A Brief Resolved Unexplained Event, also known as a BRUE, is an incident of unknown cause in which a baby stops breathing — and can be unresponsive — for a brief period.
The condition recently grabbed attention when Sarah Bendel, a mom of three, caught the moment her youngest child experienced a BRUE on video.
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After realizing her baby did not seem to be breathing, Bendel removed the child from the crib and called for help.
The video went viral on TikTok with some 9.2 million views currently.
Close-up shot of a baby’s feet in mother’s hands. “I can’t even begin to describe the panic that set in,” wrote a mom on TikTok about her six-week-old baby’s “BRUE” and how traumatic it was for the whole family. (iStock)
Bendel captioned her video with these words, in part: “BRUE AWARENESS. This was so traumatic. I can’t even begin to describe the panic that set in. Jojo is 6 weeks old and suffered with this today. #6weekold #6weekoldbaby #infant has this happened to anyone else? She had last eaten 3 hours prior. I was waking her to feed her, and this happened.”
TikTok users empathized with Bendel’s panic.
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One commenter said her own daughter experienced a BRUE at only three days old.
“Most traumatic experience of my whole life,” she wrote.
In most cases the event lasts under one minute — and infants usually under the age of one will return to normal once it’s over.
Another user pointed out the fear in Bendel’s voice.
Bendel replied to that commenter online, saying, “That voice was not my own. It was panic escaping my body, begging for someone to help me save my baby.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Bendel for further comment.
So what actually happens to a child during a BRUE?
NYU Langone pediatrician Dr. Sara Siddiqui told Fox News Digital that a BRUE can involve a change or decrease in breathing, muscle tightening or weakened muscles and bluish discoloration of the lips or mouth.
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In most cases, the event lasts under one minute, and infants usually under the age of one will return to normal once it’s over, she noted.
California-based Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s Pediatric Neurology director Dr. Jane Tavyev Asher also weighed in, telling Fox News Digital by phone that a BRUE may be caused by a seizure, reflux, infection or cardiac complications.
At left, Dr. Jane Tavyev Asher of Cedars-Sinai in California. At right, Dr. Sara Siddiqui of NYU Langone. A BRUE usually lasts under one minute but is very frightening for parents and caregivers, medical professionals say. (Cedars-Sinai/iStock/NYU Langone)
The cause of a BRUE may also go unidentified, she added.
“It’s just something that usually catches parents by surprise,” Asher also said. “It’s not something that you can predict or prevent — it’s just something to be aware of.”
Even though there are no warning signs of a BRUE before it occurs, Siddiqui said, babies who are premature, suffer from gastroesophageal reflux or have spent time in the NICU may be more likely to experience breathing difficulty.
Above, Jane Tavyev Asher, M.D., based in California, is director of Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s Pediatric Neurology. (Cedars-Sinai Hospital)
“BRUEs are not common,” she also said.
“It is diagnosed in an emergency setting after examination — and [after] ruling out other causes of the episode such as gastroesophageal reflux or seizure disorder.”
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This “isolated event of brief unresponsiveness” is not dangerous once diagnosed, although it is “imperative to rule out other causes,” she also said.
This is because a BRUE most likely will only occur once; if a BRUE happens more than once, there may be an underlying diagnosis that requires investigating, she said.
Above, Sara Siddiqui, a physician in pediatric and adolescent medicine at NYU Langone’s Huntington Medical Group. (NYU Langone)
Asher agreed, adding that the concerning aspect of a BRUE is identifying a potential existing ailment before it progresses.
Even though these frightening spells resolve relatively quickly, the incident can still be “very scary” for parents to witness, Asher also said.
“Sleeping on the back, alone, without any obstructions like blankets or toys in the crib/bassinet is essential” for babies.
Parents should seek immediate medical attention if a BRUE occurs, Siddiqui advised.
This is especially true if the infant is less than 60 days old, has a history of prematurity or other medical problems, or if the episode lasts more than a minute.
Both doctors recommend calling 911 if an infant suffers a BRUE. (iStock)
If a BRUE occurs, parents need to “make sure the child is in a position where if there are any secretions — like reflux or vomiting or anything like that — that they’re not going to aspirate or choke on those secretions,” said Asher.
She added, “You want to lay them on their side when it’s happening, or have them angled where anything that’s in the mouth would be falling down.”
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“Try to see if they’re turning blue around the mouth and [note] how long the episode is lasting so that you can report it to the doctors,” she said.
Asher stressed to parents that there is “no reason to panic,” since most children recover “very easily.”
Although there is no way to prevent a BRUE from happening, safe sleeping is always a good practice for parents, Siddiqui of NYU Langone said. (iStock)
“It’s nothing to be overly concerned about, generally speaking,” she said. “It’s just something that needs a proper evaluation.”
Siddiqui noted, “Best practice is always to keep in touch with your pediatrician regarding any issues that the baby may have.”
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Although there is no way to prevent a BRUE from happening, safe sleeping for children is always a good practice for parents, Siddiqui also said.
“Sleeping on the back, alone, without any obstructions like blankets or toys in the crib/bassinet is essential,” she added.