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Prenatal stress keeps infants, toddlers up at night, study says

ngly, babies born to mothers classified as anxious or depressed while pregnant dozed just as long as their unstressed-pregnancy counterparts about 12 hours.

However, this sleep was less sweet; children born to mothers who were depressed or anxious during pregnancy experienced more sleep problems. For instance, mothers classified as clinically anxious 18 weeks into pregnancy, compared to their non-anxious counterparts, were about 40 percent more likely to have an 18-month-old who refused to go to bed, woke early, and kept crawling out of bed. The childs rocky relationship with sleep often persisted until he or she was 30 months old.

A similar effect was found in children born to mothers who were depressed during pregnancy.

These prenatal mood disturbances worked as reliable predictors of childrens sleep problems even when investigators controlled data for other factors already linked with poor sleep quality in children, including a mothers level of postnatal anxiety or depression, her smoking habit, or her social class.

This problematic sleep is notable; it may be part of the reason why mood-disturbed pregnancies are linked to childrens behavioral disorders, like depression, hyperactivity and anxiety, later on down the road, OConnor said. It remains to be seen if the sleep problems we witnessed may play an active, causal role in priming the path for these childrens emotional and cognitive problems in later life, or if both conditions merely fall out of the same stressful pregnancies.

Related studies now show that stress, which is associated with increased exposure stress hormones, like cortisol, may disrupt a childs formation of a bundle of nerve cells in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus which act as a signaling system that tunes bodys internal clock. This signaling system helps to properly regulate daily rhythms of waking, sleeping, even hunger that is, if its formation has not been disrupted. '"/>

Contact: Becky Jones
rebecca_jones@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-8490
University of Rochester Medical Center
27-Jul-2007


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