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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Feb;72(2):153-65. Epub 2007 Nov 9.

The effect of positioning on infant cries: implications for sudden infant death syndrome.

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Department of Communication Disorders, Bowling Green State University, 200 Health Center Building, Bowling Green, OH 43403-0149, United States.



A definitive cause for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has not yet been identified, but some theories point to laryngeal or respiratory causes, in addition to theories of reduced arousal or reduced autonomic response. The occurrence of SIDS has dropped since the movement to place newborns to sleep in the supine position; however, some research has found a respiratory disadvantage for infants in this position. The current paper studied acoustic characteristics of infant pain cries to determine the potential differences related to prone versus supine positioning.


Fifty-one newborn infant cries were recorded during and following a blood draw screening procedure, with infants placed either in the supine or prone position. All infants were healthy, full-term infants. Complete crying episodes were audio-recorded, and results were based on compositional analysis and long-time average spectrum analysis across each crying episode.


Spectral analysis revealed acoustic differences related to infant positioning, and acoustic analysis also revealed that there were no respiratory differences between supine-positioned and prone-positioned infants. Overall, the acoustic differences suggest decreased arousal and/or a decreased response to pain for healthy infants recorded in the prone position.


As decreased arousal and prone positioning have been seen as possible causative factors for SIDS, the current results are seen as a successful step in evaluating the possibility of using acoustic analysis of infant cries as a means of evaluating SIDS risk for healthy infants.

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