Developmental changes in sleep and breathing across infancy and childhood

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2015 Sep;16(4):276-84. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2015.08.002. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


Sleep and breathing are physiological processes that begin in utero and undergo progressive change. While the major period of change for both sleep and breathing occurs during the months after birth, considered a period of vulnerability, more subtle changes continue to occur throughout childhood. The systems that control sleep and breathing develop separately, but sleep represents an activity state during which breathing and breathing control is significantly altered. Infants and young children may spend up to 12 hours a day sleeping; therefore, the effects of sleep on breathing are fundamental to understanding both processes in childhood. This review summarizes the current literature relevant to understanding the normal development of sleep and breathing across infancy and childhood.

Keywords: Apnea; Neurodevelopment; Periodic breathing; Sleep architecture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Apnea / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiration*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology