Childhood sleep problems: Association with prenatal factors and maternal distress/depression

K. L. Armstrong*, H. O'Donnell, R. McCallum, M. Dadds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine whether problems with childhood sleep behaviour are associated with either maternal sleep patterns and emotional status during the pregnancy period, or levels of maternal distress and depression during the postnatal period. Methodology: A case/control comparison study. Cases were families presenting for admissions to a mother/baby hospital in Brisbane with the major presenting problem being the child's sleep behaviour. The control group consisted of families presenting for well child health care to one of four child health centers in suburban Brisbane. Each participating mother provided information by way of a self-report questionnaire on social and demographic variables, children's sleep patterns, maternal emotional adjustment and maternal sleep pattern during the pregnancy, and current problem with child's sleep behaviour. Current level of maternal distress/depression, was measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Cases were compared with controls on all these variables. Results: Significant differences were found between groups in childhood sleep parameters, degree of problem related to childhood sleep, maternal sleep variables during the entire pregnancy, and current levels of maternal distress/depression. Conclusion: The origins of problematic childhood sleep behaviour may lie in the pregnancy period. Levels of maternal distress and depression are associated with problematic childhood sleep behaviour. The issue of whether childhood sleep problem predisposes to maternal distress/depression needs exploration. Assessment of maternal mood disorder or childhood sleep problems should be comprehensive and involve both the maternal infant dyad and the family network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-266
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood sleep disorder
  • Postnatal depression
  • Prenatal influences


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