Arousal from sleep in infants is impaired following an infection

Early Hum Dev. 2002 Feb;66(2):89-100. doi: 10.1016/s0378-3782(01)00237-7.


Numerous studies have postulated a link between recent infection and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In this study we contrasted arousal responses from sleep in infants on the day of discharge from hospital following an infection with those when fully recovered and also with well age-matched control infants. Thirteen term infants comprised the infection group and nine well infants acted as age-matched controls. All infants were studied using daytime polysomnography and multiple measurements of arousal threshold (cm H(2)O) in response to air-jet stimulation applied alternately to the nares were made in both active sleep (AS) and quiet sleep (QS). All infants were studied on two occasions: firstly, immediately before discharge from the Paediatric ward, and secondly, 10-15 days later when they were completely well in the case of the infection group.Arousal thresholds in QS in the infection group were significantly elevated on the day of discharge (262 +/- 48 cm H(2)O) compared with 10-15 days later (205 +/- 31 cm H(2)O, p<0.05). Thresholds in the control group were not different between studies. This study provides evidence that arousability from QS is impaired following an infection and we postulate that this may explain the increased risk for SIDS following infection observed in previous studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Communicable Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Respiration
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / etiology*