Sleep and cardiorespiratory characteristics of infant victims of sudden death: a prospective case-control study

Sleep. 1992 Aug;15(4):287-92. doi: 10.1093/sleep/15.4.287.


We studied the polygraphic sleep recordings of 30 infants who eventually died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and those of 60 matched control infants. All records were extracted from 20,750 sleep studies collected prospectively in 10 sleep laboratories. Of the 30 future SIDS victims, 5 were siblings of SIDS victims and 9 were studied after an apparent life-threatening event. For each SIDS victim, two normal control infants were matched for sex, gestational age, postnatal age and weight at birth. The future SIDS infants were reported to have more frequent episodes of regurgitations after feeding (p = 0.01) and profuse sweating during sleep (p = 0.01) than the control subjects. Only two polysomnographic variables characterized the future SIDS infants. Compared to control subjects, the SIDS infants moved less during sleep (p = 0.04) and had significantly more frequent obstructed breathing events. Obstructive and mixed apneas were seen in 23 of 30 future SIDS victims, but in only 9 of 60 control subjects (p = 0.01). The obstructed and mixed apneas lasted longer in the SIDS than in the control infants (p = 0.01) but did not exceed 15 seconds. The obstructed breaths occurred mainly in rapid eye movement sleep (78% of the events) and were accompanied by drops in heart rates to 68 beats per minute and in SaO2 levels to 75%. The present report adds further indirect evidence for a possible sleep-related impairment of respiratory control in some infants who eventually died of SIDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Sudden Infant Death*