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Behaviour and physiological responses during prone and supine sleep in early infancy
  1. B T Skadberg,
  2. T Markestad
  1. Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  1. Dr Britt T Skadberg, Department of Pediatrics, University of Bergen, N-5021 Bergen, Norway.


AIMS To study the effect of prone and supine sleep on infant behaviour, peripheral skin temperature, and cardiorespiratory parameters to aid understanding of why prone sleeping is associated with an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

METHODS Of 33 enrolled infants, 32 were studied at 2.5 and 28 at 5 months of age. A computer aided multichannel system was used for polysomnographic recordings. Behaviour was charted separately.

RESULTS Prone REM (active) sleep was associated with lower frequencies of short arousals, body movements and sighs, and a shorter duration of apnoeas than supine REM sleep at both ages. At 2.5 months there were less frequent episodes of periodic breathing during prone sleep in non-REM (quiet) and REM sleep. Heart rate and peripheral skin temperature were higher in the prone position during both sleep states at both ages.

CONCLUSIONS The observation of decreased variation in behaviour and respiratory pattern, increased heart rate, and increased peripheral skin temperature during prone compared with supine sleep may indicate that young infants are less able to maintain adequate respiratory and metabolic homoeostasis during prone sleep.

  • behaviour
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • sleeping position

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