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The association between maternal postnatal depressive symptoms and offspring sleep problems in adolescence

  • A. K. Taylor (a1), E. Netsi (a2), H. O'Mahen (a3), A. Stein (a2), J. Evans (a1) and R. M. Pearson (a1)...

Sleep problems are associated with increased risk of physical and mental illness. Identifying risk factors is an important method of reducing public health impact. We examined the association between maternal postnatal depression (PND) and offspring adolescent sleep problems.


The sample was derived from Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) participants. A sample with complete data across all variables was used, with four outcome variables. A sensitivity analysis imputing for missing data was conducted (n = 9633).


PND was associated with increased risk of sleep problems in offspring at ages 16 and 18 years. The most robust effects were sleep problems at 18 years [adjusted odds ratio (OR) for a 1 s.d. increase in PND, 1.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15–1.39, p < 0.001] and waking more often (adjusted OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.05–1.25, p = 0.003). This remained after controlling for confounding variables including antenatal depression and early sleep problems in infancy.


PND is associated with adolescent offspring sleep problems. Maternal interventions should consider the child's increased risk. Early sleep screening and interventions could be introduced within this group.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: R. M. Pearson, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK. (Email:
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