April 1, 2009

Babies of anxious moms may sleep poorly

Babies born to women with anxiety or depression before they were pregnant are more likely to sleep poorly, researchers in Britain said.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, suggests that babies are more likely to have night wakings at both 6 months and 12 months of age if they are born to women who suffered from anxiety or depression prior to the pregnancy.

The study involved 874 women ages 20-34 in the city of Southampton, England. Before becoming pregnant, the women completed the General Health Questionnaire, a 12-question screening instrument that detects depression and anxiety disorders.

Twenty-nine percent of the women were classified as having significant psychological distress.

Results indicate that psychological distress prior to conception -- anxiety or depression -- was a strong predictor of infant night waking, independent of the effects of postnatal depression, bedroom sharing and other confounding factors.

Significant psychological distress prior to conception was associated with a 23-percent increased risk of infant night wakings at 6 months of age and a 22-percent increased risk at 12 months of age, the researchers said.