Depressed women more likely to have babies unable to sleep well

April 1st, 2009 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 1 (IANS) Babies born to women who suffer from anxiety or depression prior to pregnancy are more likely to wake up at nights when they are six and 12 months old.
Results indicate that anxiety or depression was a strong predictor of infant night waking, independent of the effects of postnatal depression, bedroom sharing and other confounding factors.

Significant psychological distress prior to conception was associated with a 23 percent increased risk of infant night wakings at six months and a 22-percent increased risk at 12 months.

Frequent, disruptive night wakings in the latter period of the first year are clinically relevant because they predict sleep problems at three years of age, which in turn are associated with behavioural problems, according to a release of SLEEP, a journal.

During early childhood development, poor sleep quality also may affect learning abilities. Infant night wakings also disrupt a mother’s sleep, which predicts maternal mood, stress and fatigue.

The study involved 874 women between 20 and 34 years of age in Southampton. Before becoming pregnant the women completed the general health questionnaire, a 12-question screening instrument that detects depression and anxiety disorders.

Twenty-nine percent of the women were classified as having significant psychological distress.

When their baby was six and 12 months of age, the women reported how often their child had awakened on average between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. each night during the last two weeks.

These findings were published in the Wednesday issue of SLEEP.

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