Breathing pauses and brain oxygen levels in infants

Lead researcher

Prof Rosemary Horne

Main finding

Our study has identified that short apnoeas and periodic breathing continue to occur during sleep in normal healthy infants across the first six months after birth. Apnoeas were more common in infants born preterm, and falls in brain oxygenation were greater than in the term group. The clinical significance of this on neurodevelopmental outcome is unknown and warrants further investigations.


The Ritchie Centre

Research group

Infant and Child Health


Ms Sunjuri Sun, Dr Stephanie Yiallourou , Dr Karinna Fyfe ,Ms Alexsandia Odoi and A/Prof Flora Wong

Journal and article title

Most surprising

The majority of studies investigating pauses in breathing or apnoea during sleep in infants born at term have not extended past the newborn period and to date none have investigated the impact on cardiovascular physiology or brain oxygen levels, nor compared the findings to those of infants born preterm.

Future implications

The relationship between pauses in breathing and developmental outcomes require further study, particularly in preterm infants where repetitive falls in brain oxygen levels may contribute to poor developmental outcomes which are common in this group of infants.

Disease/health impact

Development in preterm infants