Sleep difficulties in infants at risk for developmental delays: A longitudinal study

Anat Scher, Lillian Tse, Virginia E. Hayes, Megan Tardif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We compared the sleep of infants at risk for neuromotor delays to that of infants without such risks, and examined the predictive validity of risk indicators to the development of sleep problems. Methods: Conveniently recruited infants (n = 142) were assessed for neuromotor achievements and sleep behaviors at 4-6 months and 10-12 months of age. Assessment tools were the Harris Infant Neuromotor Test and Morrell's Infant Sleep Questionnaire. Based on a cumulative risk index, three groups were defined: higher risk (n = 28), lower risk (n = 42), and no risk (n = 72). Results: At both ages, the sleep scores were similar among the groups. In the no risk and lower risk group, sleep difficulties decreased with age, while for infants in the higher risk group, more difficulties were reported over time. Overall, the neuromotor attainments were not related to sleep fragmentation or settling difficulties. Conclusions: In a diverse sample of infants, with and without risks for developmental delays, overall, sleep patterns were similar. It appears that the neuromotor achievements are not associated with sleep-wake regulation, as measured by caregivers' report.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-405
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is part of a 10-project collaboration of early childhood development research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), called the Consortium for Health, Intervention, Learning, and Development (CHILD). We acknowledge the assistance of our colleagues on the infant neuromotor study team, Catherine Backman, Dana Brynelsen, Dianne Cameron, Susan R. Harris, Tanja A. Mayson, and Anne Synnes, all of whom have been integrally involved in conceptualizing the study, carrying it out, and interpreting the findings. Dr Jonathan Berkowitz is our statistician; Sandra Zukerman, at the University of Haifa, assisted with data analysis. We are very grateful to all the families that participated, and the community-based assessors who collected data over 4 years.


  • At risk
  • Developmental delays
  • Infants
  • Neuromotor attainments
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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