Carbon dioxide concentrations in the environment of sleeping infants

J Paediatr Child Health. 1994 Feb;30(1):45-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1994.tb00565.x.


In 22 infants continuous measurements were made of the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in inspired air during sleep. Evidence was found of CO2 enrichment of inspired air in certain environmental conditions. The levels achieved were not sufficiently high to acutely endanger an infant. Carbon dioxide concentrations as high as 2-3% were observed in the prone position when the infant's head was under a blanket and when the lower face was obscured by bedding. Sleeping prone on a sheepskin also resulted in an increased concentration of CO2 but to a lesser extent than being under a blanket. In awake infants the presence of a pacifier also promoted an excess of CO2 in the inspired air, both in the prone and supine positions. The physiological and clinical implications of these findings, in relation to the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), are unknown and warrant investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air / analysis*
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Posture
  • Respiration*
  • Sleep / physiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide