Definition - What does Primary Apnea mean?
Primary apnea is a state of lack of breathing suffered by infants if they become asphyxiated prior to or during delivery. Primary apnea can generally be reversed with outside stimulation such as slapping the bottom of the infant, as you have probably seen in old movies. Primary apnea is difficult to distinguish for a more serious stage called secondary apnea so current medial practice is to treat for secondary apnea with ventillation rather than risking the time to try lesser treatment for primary apnea.
WorkplaceTesting explains Primary Apnea
Primary apnea, the first stage of temporary cessation of respiration at birth occurs if some form of asphyxiation has been suffered during childbirth or just prior to childbirth.
At this primary stage, the infant will respond to stimulation measures such as drying or mild slapping of its feet. In the secondary stage, however, the infant will respond only to artificial ventilation.
Primary apnea is preceded by the infant suffering a short period of rapid breathing that is then followed by a stopping of respiratory movements. From that point the infant heart rate and muscle tone diminishes. After this the primary apnea stage is reached. Because these visual cues to the type of apnea can occur before birth, doctors assume that any infant apnea at birth is the more serious secondary apnea.