SIDS and Sleep Apnoea Research

The SIDS and Sleep Apnoea Research Group is associated with the Hospital's busy Sleep Disorders Unit and is led by Professor Karen Waters. We conduct clinical research about sleep apnoea and other breathing problems in children with a strong focus on achieving the best treatment outcomes possible for patients.

Our aim is to optimise sleep and breathing in children who have complex problems such as obesity, endocrine problems or who have developed issues following surgery or treatment for other conditions. This work has important outcomes in minimising hospital stays for children and keeping them out of intensive care. It also reduces the problem of long term complications associated with children who are unable to sleep properly.

Our laboratory research focuses on risk factors for SIDS, including nicotine exposure and intermittent hypoxia.

Current projects

Our physiological and clinical research projects include:

  • Understanding the pathology of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and responses to treatment
  • Investigating the environmental determinants triggering or contributing to OSA development
  • POSTA: A multicentre study of adenotonsillectomy to improve IQ in pre-school aged children with OSA
  • Developing MALDI, SELDI and computerised histological analysis techniques to evaluate OSA changes

The research team

> Professor Karen Waters, Research Group Leader, email:

As Head of Respiratory Support Services at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Karen's research is focussed on treatment and outcomes of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Please visit Karen's University of Sydney profile page for more information.

> Other Research Team Members

Key publications

Baguley KE, Cheng AT, Castro C, Wainbergas N, Waters KA (2014) Is day stay adenotonsillectomy safe in children with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea? A retrospective review of 100 patients. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 78(1):71-4

Evans CA, Selvadurai H, Baur LA, Waters KA (2014) Effects of obstructive sleep apnea and obesity on exercise function in children. Sleep 37(6):1103-10

Machaalani R, Hunt NJ, Waters KA (2013) Effects of changes in energy homeostasis and exposure of noxious insults on the expression of orexin (hypocretin) and its receptors in the brain. Brain Res 1526:102-22

Waters K, Kol-Castro C, Varghese A, Lam LT, Prelog K, Cheng A (2013) Correlations between polysomnographic and lateral airway radiograph measurements in paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea. J Paediatr Child Health 49(6):445-51.

Hunt NJ, Waters KA, Machaalani R (2013) Orexin receptors in the developing piglet hypothalamus, and effects of nicotine and intermittent hypercapnic hypoxia exposures. Brain Res 1508:73-82

Heussler H, Chan P, Price AM, Waters K, Davey MJ, Hiscock H (2013) Pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of sleep disturbance in children: an Australian Paediatric Research Network survey. Sleep Med 14(2):189-94.

MacLean JE, Tan S, Fitzgerald DA, Waters KA (2013) Assessing ventilatory control in infants at high risk of sleep disordered breathing: a study of infants with cleft lip and/or palate. Pediatr Pulmonol 48(3):265-73.