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Feeding and sleeping problems in infancy – a follow-up at early school age


Elisabet Hagelin, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Specialist Child Health Clinic, Uppsala University Hospital, Box 609, 751 25 Uppsala, Sweden


Background  Feeding and sleeping problems are common during infancy. Many regulatory problems of this kind are connected to various child and family factors. This study is a follow-up of children with early feeding and/or sleeping problems, 6 years after clinical contacts.

Methods  A total of 230 families (72%) participated in the questionnaire follow-up. Children and parents were compared with 227 (71%) reference families regarding sleeping and feeding problems, health factors in parent and child, psychosocial problems, stressful life events, social support, life satisfaction, and externalizing and internalizing behaviour in the child.

Results  Six years after clinical contacts the children with early feeding and/or sleeping problems still had more problems of this kind compared with the reference children. Early child health problems were more frequent within the clinical group, but recent health problems did not separate the two groups. Mothers in the clinical sample reported more health problems than mothers in the reference group and clinical parents were less content with their social support and had more psychosocial problems, including stressful life events. Children in the clinical sample had more internalizing problems than comparison children. Recent feeding and sleeping problems were connected to more externalizing and internalizing problems.

Conclusions  Early regulatory problems, concerning sleeping or feeding, are less frequent when the child grows up, but nevertheless tend to remain. A clinical recommendation for child health care is to take both child and family factors into account, to individualize contacts, work with an all-inclusive perspective and have close follow-ups.