Although previous studies showed no association between sleep position and obstructive sleep apnea in children, the present study, on the other hand, reveals a strong clinical association between the two factors.

The study examined 60 toddlers during their sleep to explore the link between obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and body position. They studied time spent in each body position and the number of apnea events, the level of oxygen saturation in the blood and the respiratory disturbance index (RDI).

The study reveals that breathing difficulties are more likely to occur when children slept on their backs rather than on their side or other positions. The respiratory disturbance index was higher when the toddlers slept with their faces up for more than half of the total sleep time. The RDI in the supine position was greater than in all other positions combined.

This effect is more noticeable in children who have sleep apnea than in children who have no sleeping disorders.

The researchers point that although the study is important, parents should be cautious as sleeping on the sides or backs does reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.