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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.