The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bed-wetting' Call good old granny
- Kids in nuclear families more likely to have sleep trouble, shows study

New Delhi, Feb. 4: The next time your child wets the bed, it might be a good idea to ask grandma to come and stay with you.

A study that analysed sleep problems in young school-going Indian children has found that kids in nuclear families are more susceptible to bed-wetting, talking in their sleep and nightmares than those in extended families.

Sleep problems are frequent among otherwise healthy children, paediatricians at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh have reported.

The doctors quizzed parents to assess sleep habits and problems among 103 children between three and 10 years brought to the hospital for routine immunisation or minor complaints like cold and cough or diarrhoea.

The study found 93 per cent of the children shared bedrooms with parents and that 44 of the 103 children had some sleep problem. Some reported more than one complaint.

The most frequent complaint was bed-wetting, reported in 19 children, followed by sleep talking in 15, teeth-grinding in 12, nightmares in six, and snoring in another six. There was no link between the complaints and the sex of the child, the doctors said.

“The nuclear family emerged as a predictor of sleep problems ' children living in nuclear families appeared more likely to have sleep problems,” said Bhavneet Bharti, assistant professor at the advanced paediatric centre at PGIMER.

Bharti and her colleagues, who have published their findings in the latest issue of the journal Indian Pediatrics, said this study did not investigate how a nuclear family might contribute to sleep problems.

But, they said, recent trends in urbanisation and the culture of working parents could be expected to have had some impact on children.

“If such problems don’t occur too often ' let’s say more than thrice a week ' then there’s nothing to worry about,” said Bharti. “Young children are expected to grow out of the problem. But paediatricians might sometimes need to ease parents’ anxiety.”

The doctors also found that about two-thirds of the children refused to sleep without their parents, half feared sleeping alone, and one-fourth required lights to sleep.

Studies in the US have shown that children who snore regularly are more likely to develop hyperactivity as they grow older. The first connection between snoring and hyperactivity emerged four years ago and was bolstered by a study in July last year.

A research team at the University of Michigan’s sleep disorders laboratory had shown children who had snored between the ages of three and 13 were more likely to have hyperactivity between the ages of seven and 17.

“Persistent sleep problems might need to be tackled professionally for they might lead to adverse performance in schools,” Bharti said. The PGI team is now planning a larger study involving school children.

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