(Reuters Health) – Infants who do not sleep all night do not seem to be at higher risk for cognitive…
(Reuters Health) – Infants who do not sleep all night do not seem to be at higher risk for cognitive or motor development problems, explains a Canadian study.
When determining whether or not to train infants to sleep through the night, it is one of the most urgent issues encountered by new parents, with some previous studies indicating that insufficient sleep can lead to a number of developmental problems for infants. However, less is known about whether infant development is affected by how many of their sleeping hours occur in a long uninterrupted stretch overnight.
For the current study, researchers surveyed data of 388 maternal couples, asked women about their own moods and their children‘s sleepy routines, assessing infant cognitive and motor development when the children were 6, 1
2 and 36 months old.
“We found that a large proportion of 6- and 12-month-old infants do not sleep all night and are not associated with infant development or mood of mothers,” said study leader Marie-Helene Pennestri of McGill University in Montreal and the mental the hospital of Riviere-des-Prairies.
“Therefore, parents should not worry if their children do not sleep all night at 6 months of age,” Pennestri said by email.
Children in the study were classified as sleeping through the night when they received at least six hours of uninterrupted rest.
At the age of six, approximately 62 percent of the mothers reported that their children slept for at least six hours a night. Girls were more likely to do this than boys; 70 percent of girls slept all night compared with 56 percent of boys.
At this age, only 43 percent of the mothers reported that their children slept for at least eight hours a night. While girls were a little more likely than boys to do this, the difference was small and could have been a chance.
Breastfeeding was associated with lower odds to sleep through the night, found the study as well. About 55 percent of the children who slept six hours a night at the age of 6 were breastfeeding, while 81 percent of infants who did not sleep for six uninterrupted hours nursed.
And about 49 percent of the children who slept eight hours a night at this age were breastfeeding, compared with 77 percent of infants who did not sleep for so long.
Pediatricians recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed children until they are at least six months old because they can strengthen the children’s immune system and reduce the risk of ear and respiratory infections, sudden childhood death syndrome, allergies, obesity and diabetes.
At the age of 12, 72 percent of the children slept for at least six hours and 57 percent slept for at least eight hours a night. Less sleep at night was again associated with a higher likelihood of continued breastfeeding at this age.
While the benefits of breastfeeding are well-known, the study’s authors hope in pediatricians to skip a night feed to encourage more sleep at night for infants and mothers.
The study was not intended to prove whether or not uninterrupted sleep directly affects breastfeeding, child development or mother’s mood. Researchers also relied on measuring mothers about infant sleep rather than supervising infant sleep immediately.
Sleeping, but important, is not the only thing that affects the child’s development, “said Jodi Mindell, Associated Head of Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, and a professor at Saint Joseph’s University.
“There are so many things that affect long-term development, such as genetics, nutrition and parent-child interactions,” Mindell said, as co-author, commenting on the study, said by email.
Some parents may still want to train children to sleep through the night as this can help the whole family to get more rest regularly, Mindell said.
“Sleep training is not expected to cause a baby to become smarter years later or that’s the goal,” Mindell said. “Studies have consistently found that sleep training leads to happier and less stressed families.”
Source: bit.ly/2K3YhXb and bit.ly/2qJSbSV Pediatrics, online November 12, 2018.
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