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The prevalence of sleep problems among pregnant women is over 50%, and daytime sleepiness is among the most common sleep problems. Previous studies have associated antenatal sleep problems with adverse maternal health and neonatal outcomes, but the consequences of antenatal sleep problems and particularly daytime sleepiness on child psychological development have not been assessed prospectively.
In this prospective cohort study including 111 mother-child dyads, we examined the associations of maternal daytime sleepiness during pregnancy, assessed at 17 and 28 weeks of gestation using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, with child neuropsychiatric problems and neuropsychological development, assessed with mother-rated questionnaires and individually administered neuropsychological tests, at child age 2.6–5.7 years (mean = 4.3 years).
Independently of sociodemographic and perinatal covariates and maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms during and/or after pregnancy, maternal antenatal daytime sleepiness was associated with increased total [unstandardized regression coefficient (B) = 0.25 standard deviation (s.d.) units; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01–0.48] and internalizing (B = 0.25 s.d.s: 95% CI 0.01–0.49) psychiatric problems and ADHD symptoms (B = 0.27 s.d.s: 95% CI 0.04–0.50) in children, and with poorer executive function, particularly in the areas of attention, working memory and inhibitory control (B = −0.39 s.d.s: 95% CI −0.69 to −0.10).
Maternal antenatal daytime sleepiness carries adverse consequences for offspring psychological development. The assessment of sleep problems may be an important addition to standard antenatal care.
Prenatal maternal obesity has been linked to adverse childhood neuropsychiatric outcomes, including increased symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), internalizing and externalizing problems, affective disorders and neurodevelopmental problems but few studies have studied neuropsychiatric outcomes among offspring born to very severely obese women or assessed potential familial confounding by maternal psychological distress.
We evaluated neuropsychiatric symptoms in 112 children aged 3–5 years whose mothers had participated in a longitudinal study of obesity in pregnancy (50 very severe obesity, BMI ⩾40 kg/m2, obese class III and 62 lean, BMI 18.5–25 kg/m2). The mothers completed the Conners’ Hyperactivity Scale, Early Symptomatic Syndrome Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examination Questionnaire (ESSENCE-Q), Child's Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ), Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) to assess child neuropsychiatric symptoms. Covariates included child's sex, age, birthweight, gestational age, socioeconomic deprivation levels, maternal age, parity, smoking status during pregnancy, gestational diabetes and maternal concurrent symptoms of anxiety and depression assessed using State Anxiety of Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Index (STAI) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), respectively.
Children exposed to prenatal maternal very severe obesity had significantly higher scores in the Conners’ Hyperactivity Scale; ESSENCE-Q; total sleep problems in CSHQ; hyperactivity, conduct problems and total difficulties scales of the SDQ; higher externalizing and total problems, anxious/depressed, aggressive behaviour and other problem syndrome scores and higher DSM-oriented affective, anxiety and ADHD problems in CBCL. Prenatal maternal very severe obesity remained a significant predictor of child neuropsychiatric problems across multiple scales independent of demographic factors, prenatal factors and maternal concurrent symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Prenatal maternal very severe obesity is a strong predictor of increased neuropsychiatric problems in early childhood.
Both maternal obesity and disordered mood have adverse effects on pregnancy outcome. We hypothesized that maternal very severe obesity (SO) is associated with increased anxiety and depression (A&D) symptoms during pregnancy, with adverse effects on gestational weight gain (GWG), postpartum mood and postpartum weight retention (PPWR) and explored any mediation by circulating glucocorticoids.
We measured A&D symptoms with validated questionnaires at weeks 17 and 28 of pregnancy and 3 months postpartum in 135 lean [body mass index (BMI) ⩽25 kg/m2] and 222 SO (BMI ⩾40 kg/m2) pregnant women. Fasting serum cortisol was measured by radioimmunoassay; GWG and PPWR were recorded.
A&D symptoms were higher in the SO group during pregnancy and postpartum despite adjusting for multiple confounders including previous mental health diagnosis (p < 0.05), and were non-linearly correlated with total GWG (anxiety R2 = 0.06, p = 0.037; depression R2 = 0.09, p = 0.001). In the SO group only, increased maternal anxiety (β = 0.33, p = 0.03) and depression (β = 0.19, p = 0.04) symptoms at week 17 of pregnancy were associated with increased PPWR, independent of total GWG and breastfeeding. Anxiety symptoms at week 28 of pregnancy, but not depression, were non-linearly correlated with serum cortisol level at week 36 of pregnancy (R2 = 0.06, p = 0.02). Cortisol did not mediate the link between A&D symptoms and GWG.
Maternal SO was associated with increased A&D symptoms, and with adverse effects on GWG and PPWR independent of circulating glucocorticoids. Strategies to optimize GWG and postpartum weight management in SO women should include assessment and management of maternal mood in early pregnancy.