Pacifier use does not alter sleep and spontaneous arousal patterns in healthy term-born infants

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Aim Impaired arousal from sleep has been implicated in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Sleeping in the prone position is a major risk factor for SIDS. Epidemiological studies have shown that pacifier use decreases the risk of SIDS, even when infants sleep prone. We examined spontaneous arousability in infants slept prone and supine over the first 6 months of life and hypothesised that spontaneous arousals would be increased in pacifier users, particularly in the prone position. Methods Healthy term infants (n = 30) were studied on three occasions over the first 6 months after birth. Spontaneous cortical arousals and subcortical activations were scored and converted into frequency per hour of sleep. Results There was no effect of pacifier use on total time spent sleeping or awake or the number of spontaneous awakenings at any age. There was also no effect of pacifier use on the frequency or duration of the total number of spontaneous arousals or on cortical arousals and subcortical activations. Conclusion Pacifier use did not alter infant spontaneous arousability at any of the three ages studied, in either the prone or supine sleeping position. Any preventative effect of pacifiers for SIDS may be through physiological mechanisms other than increased arousability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1244-1250
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • arousal: sleep
  • prone sleeping position
  • sudden infant death syndrome

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