Respiratory failure in paediatric patients

Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) has been used to treat sleep-disordered breathing, respiratory distress and respiratory failure in adults for the past 30 years, and its use in paediatric patients has grown over the past 10 years.

Children at risk of SDB or respiratory failure

Children are at risk of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), respiratory distress or respiratory failure if they have:

  • Upper airway obstruction (caused by adenoid and tonsil hypertrophy, high-arched palate, laryngomalacia and micrognathia)1
  • Lower airway obstruction or restriction (caused by bronchiectasis or scoliosis)1
  • Poor muscle tone (frequently associated with congenital conditions including muscular atrophies and dystrophies)1
  • Poor functioning of the pons medulla (brain) and/or central nervous system (caused by congenital central hypoventilation syndrome or spinal cord injury)1

If young children contract a respiratory infectious disease, they are also at risk of acute episodes of respiratory distress or respiratory failure and may need respiratory support therapy during this time.

The treatment for paediatric SDB, respiratory distress and respiratory failure ranges from surgery to non-invasive ventilation (NIV) to invasive ventilation.


  1. Cheifetz IM. Invasive and noninvasive paediatric mechanical ventilation.Respir Care. 2003 Apr;48(4):442-58.