Study Objective: To determine whether preconceptional psychological distress is associated with infant sleep disturbance.
Design: Prospective cohort study
Setting: Southampton, UK.
Participants: Acohort of women from the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS), who were recruited between 20-34 years of age and followed through their subsequent pregnancies and beyond; a total of 874 mother-infant pairs were involved in the study.
Measurements and Results: Preconceptional psychological distress was measured with the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). When their infants were 6 and 12 months of age, mothers were asked to report the number of times babies woke on average between the hours of midnight and 06:00 each night during a 2-week period. Preconceptional psychological distress was a strong predictor of infant night waking at both 6 and 12 months of age, independent of the effects of postnatal depression, bedroom sharing, and other confounding factors. At 6 months, preconceptional distress was associated with a 23% increased risk of waking (prevalence ratio [PR] 1.23, 95% CI 1.06-1.44), and at 12 months with a 22% increased risk (PR 1.22, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.02-1.46).
Conclusions: Women with preconceptional psychological distress are more likely to have babies with sleep disturbance during infancy, independent of whether they suffered from postnatal depression.