Sleep Disorders in Newborns and Infants

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During infancy, sleep is at a lifetime maximum, and t he maturation of sleep is one of the most important physiological processes occurring during the first year of life, particularly the first 6 months. Sleep has a marked effect on cardiorespiratory control which is also rapidly maturing during infancy. Immaturity of cardiorespiratory control frequently leads to respiratory instability and prolonged pauses in breathing as manifest in apnea of prematurity and periodic breathing. During infancy, central apneas are common and obstructive apnea is rare. Although currently believed to be benign during this early period of development, there is growing evidence that they may be associated with developmental deficits in neurocognition. A failure of cardiorespiratory control mechanisms, together with an impaired arousal from sleep response, is believed to play an important role in the final event of the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The “triple-risk model” describes SIDS as an event that results from the intersection of three overlapping factors: (1) a vulnerable infant, (2) a critical developmental period in homeostatic control, and (3) an exogenous stressor. In an attempt to understand how the triple risk hypothesis is related to infant cardiorespiratory physiology, many researchers have examined how the known risk and protective factors for SIDS alter infant physiology and arousal, particularly during sleep. This review discusses the association between the three components of the triple-risk hypothesis and major risk factors for SIDS, such as prone sleeping and maternal smoking, together with three “protective” factors, and cardiovascular control and arousability from sleep in infants, and discusses their potential involvement in SIDS.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSleep Disorders in Children
EditorsSoňa Nevšímalová, Oliviero Bruni
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer-Verlag London Ltd.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783319286402
ISBN (Print)9783319286389
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea
  • Periodic breathing
  • Apnea of prematurity
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Sleeping position
  • Maternal smoking
  • Prematurity

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