Objectives Next to cardiovascular and genitourinary malformations, CLP is the most common congenital defect demanding surgical repair. In Europe about one in 700 births is affected by a CLP malformation. The commonplace view is that any surgical intervention in young infants leads to heightened psychological and physiological stress in both infants and parents. However, reliable data are missing. Furthermore, if the surgical intervention was a stressful event, this should be mirrored in changes to the child’s sleep continuity. The aim of the study was therefore to assess sleep of infants with CLP before and after CLP repair, and to compare these sleep patterns descriptively with the mother’s sleep pattern.
Methods The sleep of seven infants with CLP was assessed by means of actigraphy four days before and four days after surgical intervention for CLP repair. Additionally, mothers completed a sleep log for the same period of time.
Results No statistically significant differences between infants’ sleep before and after surgical intervention were observed. Infants’ sleep duration decreased markedly the night before the surgical intervention. Mother’s sleep quality decreased preceding the day of the CLP repair, and sleep onset latency almost doubled.
Conclusions CLP repair is not as ‘traumatic’ as the commonplace view holds, because otherwise infants sleep patterns would have been much more altered. However, comparing the patterns of mother’s and infant’s sleep suggests that infants are sensitive to their mother’s psychological tension and behavior. As a result, infants may become concerned, and this tension is reflected in reduced sleep.
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