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Early Hum Dev. 2010 Jul;86(7):419-24. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2010.05.020. Epub 2010 Jun 19.

The link between sleep problems in infancy and early childhood and attention problems at 5 and 14 years: Evidence from a birth cohort study.

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1
Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia. f.ocallaghan@griffith.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little research has examined the associations between early sleep problems and attention problems over several developmental periods.

AIMS:

To examine whether sleep problems in infancy and early childhood are independently related to attention difficulty at 5 and 14 years, and to the continuity of attention difficulties from 5 to 14 years.

STUDY DESIGN:

The study was a prospective, population-based birth cohort study.

SUBJECTS:

7223 women who delivered a live, singleton child between 1981 and 1983 were recruited at the first antenatal visit. Of these, 4204 had complete information on all key measures.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

Attention problems were assessed with items from the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) and were classified as adolescent onset (i.e. problems at 14 but not at 5); early remitter (problems at 5, no problem at 14); and persistent (i.e. at both 5 and 14).

RESULTS:

At 6 months, sleep problems 'sometimes' were associated with the early remitter group in boys. For sleep problems between 2 and 4 years of age, findings were generally similar for boys and girls with strong associations with adolescent attention. Sleep problems 'often' were independently associated with early remitter and persistent attention problems, and 'sometimes' with early remitter and adolescent onset attention problems.

CONCLUSIONS:

Sleep problems in early childhood are an indicator of subsequent attention problems that may persist into adolescence. Whether these associations are causal requires further research, however their presence provides an opportunity for early intervention and monitoring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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