Results show that at 2 to 4 weeks of age, the mean strength of a pulsatile air-jet stimulus that was required to induce arousal during quiet sleep was significantly lower in male infants than female infants.
Horne and lead author Heidi L. Richardson, PhD, studied 50 healthy infants who were evaluated at both ages by daytime polysomnography, which was performed in a sleep laboratory where light and noise were minimal. Infants were placed on their backs in a bassinet to sleep. Arousability was assessed using a five-second, pulsatile jet of air that was delivered with a hand-held cannula to the nostrils. Air pressure was increased between consecutive stimuli until an arousal response was observed. Responses to each stimulus were classified as either non-arousal, subcortical activation or full cortical arousal.
According to the authors, the finding that infant girls appeared to sleep more soundly than infant boys is consistent with previous reports of increased sleep disruption in male infants. Mothers tend to perceive that infant boys have sleep patterns that include more problematic crying and increased night awakenings.The authors suspect that mothers may be more likely to try to calm restless male infants by putting them to sleep on their stomach, which may contribute to the gender difference in the rate of SIDS. Approximately 60 percent of SIDS victims are male, reports Horne.
Kathleen McCann | EurekAlert!
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