Infant sleep and child mental health: A longitudinal investigation

Fallon Cook, Laura J. Conway, Rebecca Giallo, Deirdre Gartland, Emma Sciberras, Stephanie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective To determine whether infants with severe persistent sleep problems are at increased risk of (1) meeting diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder (age 10 years), and (2) having elevated symptoms of mental health difficulties (ages 4 and 10 years), in comparison with infants with settled sleep. Design and setting Prospective longitudinal community cohort study-the Maternal Health Study. Mothers completed questionnaires/interviews at 15 weeks' gestation; 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post partum; and when their child turned 4 and 10 years old. Measures included parental report of infant night waking and sleep problems and child mental health (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; Spence Children's Anxiety Scale; Development and Well-being Assessment). Participants 1460 mother-infant dyads. Results 283 (19.4%) infants had persistent severe sleep problems, 817 (56.0%) had moderate/fluctuating sleep problems and 360 (24.7%) infants were settled. Infants with persistent severe sleep problems were more likely to report emotional symptoms at age 4 (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=2.70, 95% CI 1.21 to 6.05, p=0.02), and meet diagnostic criteria for an emotional disorder at age 10 (AOR=2.37, 95% CI 1.05 to 5.36, p=0.04). Infants with persistent severe sleep problems also had elevated symptoms of separation anxiety (AOR=2.44, 95% CI 1.35 to 4.41, p<0.01), fear of physical injury (AOR=2.14, 95% CI 1.09 to 4.18, p=0.03) and overall elevated anxiety (AOR=2.20, 95% CI 1.13 to 4.29, p=0.02) at age 10. Conclusions Infants with persistent severe sleep problems during the first postnatal year have an increased risk of anxiety problems and emotional disorders at age 10.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-660
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Volume105
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • child psychiatry
  • child psychology
  • epidemiology
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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