Sleep and Sensory Characteristics in Young Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP (Impact Factor: 2.13). 06/2011; 32(5):384-92. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3182199694
Source: PubMed


: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a syndrome that results from prenatal alcohol exposure and is defined by significant neurobehavioral impairments. Sleep disruption has been recognized as a clinically important symptom of FASD that has multiple negative effects on the child's health, ability to function adaptively, as well as on family and caregivers. However, few studies have addressed and characterized the sleep problems in this population.
: The objective of this study was to characterize sleep in FASD and describe the impact of sensory processing difficulties on sleep patterns in children with FASD.
: Children with FASD were compared with age-matched typically developing children between 3 and 6 years of age. Sleep was assessed using actigraphy, a sleep log, and the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire. The Sensory Profile™, completed by caregivers, was used to evaluate the child's sensory processing abilities. Overall differences in sensory processing were correlated with actigraphic parameters measured in alcohol exposed and control groups.
: Data show that children with FASD have significantly more sleep disturbances than typically developing children, including increased bedtime resistance, shortened sleep duration, increased sleep anxiety, and increased night awakenings and parasomnias. Actigraphy reveals a significant difference between groups for sleep onset latency.
: This study demonstrates that sensory processing deficits are widespread in children with FASD and that these deficits are associated with multiple sleep problems. Children with FASD should be screened for sleep-related disorders and would benefit from occupational therapy for sensory-based treatment aimed at sleep regulation and consolidation.

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    • "This general condition is shared by other common neurobehavioral pathologies, such as autism (Ramamoorthi and Lin, 2011) and schizophrenia (Yizhar et al., 2011), as well as neurodegenerative diseases like AD (Verret et al., 2012). It is therefore intriguing that each of these conditions, including FASD, has commonly been characterized by sensory processing deficits (Baker et al., 2008; Carr et al., 2010; Wengel et al., 2011). Behavioral adaptation during infancy and early childhood is heavily reliant on sensory cues (Sullivan, 2012) and therefore integration of this information into appropriate behavioral outputs becomes complicated in cases of FASD (Jirikowic et al., 2008). "
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    • "While these measures have been successfully utilized to assess locomotor activity in children with ADHD, hyperactivity in FASD has yet to be assessed using objective measures, instead relying exclusively upon caregiver report and qualitative observations. Actigraphy has only been used once in the FASD population to assess sleep disturbances (Wengel et al., 2011), but not during waking hours. To our knowledge, the current study is the first to use actigraphy to objectively assess the presence of hyperactivity in the FASD population. "
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