Hypoxemia (Pediatric) Make an Appointment Find a Doctor Ask a Question Reviewed by J. Tod Olin, MD, MSCS (February 01, 2012) When we breathe, oxygen enters the lungs and then crosses into the blood. Hypoxemia occurs when the lungs cannot transfer enough oxygen into the blood. In children, breathing problems are the most common cause of hypoxemia. Some heart problems can cause hypoxemia, but unknown heart disease in school-aged children is rare (because the majority of children with significant heart disease are diagnosed as infants). High altitude (above 10,000 feet) certainly contributes to hypoxemia, especially during exercise. However, at Denver’s altitude, hypoxemia during exercise (specifically an oxygen saturation under 92%) is not normal and requires evaluation. Parents and other caregivers need to be aware of the symptoms of low blood oxygen levels. If your child experiences these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. They can review your child's overall medical condition and decide what treatment is necessary. Symptoms of Hypoxemia Frequent headaches Behavior changes Increased irritability Increased sleepiness A slowing of growth Conditions Related to Hypoxemia Exercise-Induced Asthma Vocal Cord Dysfunction Pediatric Heart Disease Programs & Services Pulmonary Medicine (Pediatric) Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.