UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: BRUE Restructuring the way we think of ALTE

Keywords: Apparent life threatening event, ALTE, apnea, low risk infants, brief unexplained resolved events (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/20/2016 by Jennifer Guyther, MD
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The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a new set of clinical practice guidelines to help better manage and think about patients who have experienced an ALTE (Apparent Life Threatening Event). The term BRUE (Brief Resolved Unexplained Event) will replace ALTE.

BRUE is defined as an event in a child younger than 1 year where the observer reports a sudden, brief and now resolved episode of one or more of: cyanosis or pallor; absent, decreased or irregular breathing, marked change in tone or altered level of responsiveness. A BRUE can be diagnosed after a history and physical exam that reveal no explanation.

BRUE can be classified as low risk or high risk. Those that can be categorized as low risk do not require the extensive inpatient evaluation that has often occurred with ALTE.

LOW risk BRUE:

Age > 60 days

Gestational age at least 32 weeks and postconceptual age of at least 45 weeks

First BRUE

Duration < 1 minute

No CPR required by a trained medical provider

No concerning historical features (outlined in the article)

No concerning physical exam findings (outlined in the article)

Recommendations for low risk BRUE:

-SHOULD: Educate, shared decision making, ensure follow up and offer resources for CPR training

-May: Obtain pertussis and 12 lead; briefly monitor patients with continuous pulse oximetry and serial observations

-SHOULD NOT: Obtain WBC, blood culture, CSF studies, BMP, ammonia, blood gas, amino acids, acylcarnitine, CXR, echocardiogram, EEG, initiate home cardiorespiratory monitoring, prescribe acid suppression or anti-epileptic drugs

-NEED NOT: obtain viral respiratory tests, urinalysis, glucose, serum bicarbonate, hemoglobin or neuroimaging, admit to the hospital solely for cardiorespiratory monitoring

*When looking at the evidence strength behind these recommendations, the only one that had a strong level was that you should not obtain WBC, blood culture or CSF


Tieder JS, Bonkowsky JL, Etzel RA, et al. Brief Resolved Unexplained Events (Formerly Apparent Life-Threatening Events) and Evaluation of Lower-Risk Infants. Clinical Practice Guideline. Pediatrics. 2016; 137 (5):e20160590.