Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, PhD, CBSM, DBSM Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Sleep Research & Treatment Center Director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Cente

Childhood Insomnia: Parents and Providers Should Not Assume Symptoms Will Go Away

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, PhD, CBSM, DBSM Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Sleep Research & Treatment Center Director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Cente

Dr. Fernandez-Mendoza

Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, PhD, CBSM, DBSM
Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health
Sleep Research & Treatment Center
Director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  Is insomnia familial?

Response: Consistent research has shown that about 25% of school-age children have insomnia symptoms consisting of difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep. However, what has remained unknown is to what extent those insomnia symptoms persist all the way into adulthood, or whether they developmentally remit (go away with age) as the child grows into adolescence or young adulthood. This is the question that our study focused on.

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings? 

Response: We found that 43% of children with insomnia symptoms persisted with them through adolescence and into young adulthood, a frequency much greater than previously believed. On the other hand, about 38% of children experienced remission, another 19% waxed-and-waned during the same transitional periods. In addition, we found those who reported insomnia symptoms and slept short in the sleep lab were 5 time more likely to worsen into adult insomnia disorder.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Parents and pediatricians should not assume childhood insomnia symptoms to go away with age and early prevention and intervention may be warranted in a significant proportion of children. Also, they should consider adolescence as a critical developmental stage when insomnia symptoms become a more severe form evolving into a chronic, clinical condition. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We need to understand what are the health consequences or correlates of the developmental trajectories of insomnia symptoms that were able to describe as it pertains to adverse heart, brain and mental health outcomes.

 Any disclosures?

The study was funded by NIH, specifically NHLBI as a primary funder and NIMH as a secondary funder.

Citation:

Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Kristina P. Lenker, Susan L. Calhoun, Myra Qureshi, Anna Ricci, Elizaveta Bourchtein, Fan He, Alexandros N. Vgontzas, Jiangang Liao, Duanping Liao, Edward O. Bixler; Trajectories of Insomnia Symptoms From Childhood Through Young Adulthood. Pediatrics 2022; e2021053616. 10.1542/peds.2021-053616

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Feb 17, 2022 @ 7:27 pm

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