Sleep, behavior problems linked in autism

May 5, 2010 at 12:39 AM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 5 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers linked sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorders and behavioral problems.

Study authors Suzanne Goldman and Dr. Beth Malow of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Dr. Daniel Coury of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, say there was a statistically significant association between sleep difficulties and daytime behaviors.

They found children who got less sleep had more emotional problems and children who had sleep problems such as nightmares, night terrors and sleepwalking had more behavior problems overall.

"A better understanding of the relationship between sleep problems and daytime behavior could lead to more effective treatments for both," Coury says in a statement.

Goldman, Malow, Coury and colleagues analyzed Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaires completed by 1,056 parents of children with a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders -- 564 of children ages 2-5 and 492 of ages 6-18. Daytime behaviors were obtained using the Child Behavior Checklist -- another validated, parentally completed questionnaire.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver.

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