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Infant sleep and anxiety disorders in early childhood: Findings from an Australian pregnancy cohort study

MacMillan, Kelli K.; Bourke, Declan; Watson, Stuart J.; Lewis, Andrew J.; Teti, Douglas M.; Ball, Helen L.; Galbally, Megan

Infant sleep and anxiety disorders in early childhood: Findings from an Australian pregnancy cohort study Thumbnail


Authors

Kelli K. MacMillan

Declan Bourke

Stuart J. Watson

Andrew J. Lewis

Douglas M. Teti

Megan Galbally



Abstract

Emphasis on continuous infant sleep overnight may be driven by parental concern of risk to child mental health outcomes. The Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS) examined whether infant sleep at 6 and 12 months postpartum predicts anxiety disorders at 2–4 years, and whether this is moderated by maternal depression, active physical comforting (APC) or maternal cognitions about infant sleep. Data included 349 women and infants. Infant sleep was measured using the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire and child anxiety disorders by the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment. The risk of developing generalised anxiety or social phobia disorders at 3–4 years was reduced by 42% (p = 0.001) and 31% (p = 0.001), respectively, for a one standard deviation increase in total sleep at 12 months. No other infant sleep outcomes were associated. Maternal depression, APC and cognitions about infant sleep did not significantly moderate these relationships. Focus may need to be on total infant sleep, rather than when sleep is achieved. Highlights: To assess whether infant sleep outcomes (i.e., frequency of nocturnal wakes; nocturnal wakefulness and total sleep per day) at 6 and 12 months predict early childhood anxiety disorders at 3–4 years of age. Maternally reported infant sleep outcomes were not associated with the risk of developing early childhood anxiety disorders at 3–4 years. It may be total infant sleep, irrespective of when sleep occurs or night waking and, independently, active physical comforting that requires further investigation.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 13, 2024
Online Publication Date Mar 12, 2024
Publication Date Mar 12, 2024
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 22, 2024
Journal Infant and Child Development
Print ISSN 1522-7227
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Article Number e2501
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.2501
Keywords infant sleep, early childhood anxiety disorders, night waking, child mental health, perinatal depression
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2330457

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