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Res Dev Disabil. 2013 Nov;34(11):3988-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.08.018. Epub 2013 Sep 10.

Sleep problems and language development in toddlers with Williams syndrome.

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University of New South Wales, School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Australia.


Sleep and related maternal beliefs were assessed in a narrow age range of 18 children with Williams syndrome (WS) and 18 typically developing (TD) children. WS is a rare genetic disorder characterised by a complex physical, cognitive and behavioural phenotype. High prevalence of sleep difficulties in older children and adults with WS have been reported. Parents completed 6 questionnaires: the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire, Infant Sleep Vignettes Interpretation Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index of Parents, Child Behaviour Checklist, MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory for Infants - Words and Gestures, and the Major (ICD-10) Depression Inventory. Compared to TD children, those with WS had shorter night sleep, more night wakings and wakefulness according to parental report. Regression analyses revealed that a proportion of the variance in language development scores in WS children could be explained by night sleep duration. Compared to control parents, the mothers of the WS group were more likely to describe their child's sleep as problematic and had higher rates of involvement with child sleep, yet they had a lesser tendency to interpret sleep problems as signs of distress and a greater tendency to emphasise limit setting. Approximately half of both groups of mothers experienced poor sleep quality. This was also related to maternal mood, and night wakefulness in the children with WS. This is the first study to quantify sleep difficulties in young children with WS in a narrow age range using maternal report. The possible negative effects on maternal sleep and mood, and the link between night sleep and language development in young children with WS, requires further detailed investigation.


Developmental disorders; Maternal depression; Sleep problems; Williams syndrome

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