Washington, Feb 02: British scientists have for the first time found a genetic link between sleep disorders and depression in young children.
Researchers at Goldsmiths College in London say that genetics is the most important factor in explaining the link between sleep problems early in life and the later development of depression.
Their findings are consistent with the theory that early treatment of sleep problems may protect children from the development of depression.
Results also indicate that the stability of sleep problems across time is mainly caused by genetic factors (46 percent of the genetic influences on sleep at age 10 were the same as those that influenced a child at age of eight).
Lead-author of the study, Alice M. Gregory, senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths College, London and co-author of the study, said the most surprising result concerned the reasons why there may be links between sleep problems and depression at different points in a young person's life.
Data was collected from 300 twin pairs born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996. Anxiety was examined at age seven using the parent-report Anxiety Related Behaviours Questionnaire (ARBQ), a 21-item scale reflecting commonly assessed anxiety-related behaviours in young children (including general distress, separation anxiety, shyness, inhibition and fears).
Two hundred forty-seven twin pairs scored highly on parent-reported anxiety at age seven; 53 control twin pairs also were selected to ensure full coverage of the full range of scores on test measures, said a Goldsmith release.
Parents reported on their eight-year-old children's sleep problems using the abbreviated version of the Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ).
The study was published in the February issue of SLEEP. (ANI)