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Does an intervention that improves infant sleep also improve overweight at age 6? Follow-up of a randomised trial


Objective Short sleep duration may contribute to childhood obesity. Amenable to intervention, sleep thus provides a potential path for prevention. The authors aimed to determine the impact of a behavioural intervention that successfully reduced parent-reported infant sleep problems on adiposity at age 6.

Design 5-year follow-up of a previously reported population-based cluster randomised trial. Participant allocation was concealed to researchers and data collection blinded.

Setting Recruitment from well-child centres in Melbourne, Australia.

Participants 328 children (174 intervention) with parent-reported sleep problems at age 7–8 months drawn from 49 centres (clusters).

Intervention Behavioural sleep strategies delivered over one to three structured individual nurse consultations from 8 to 10 months, versus usual care.

Main outcomes at age 6 years Body mass index (BMI) z-score, percentage overweight/obese and waist circumference.

Analyses Intention-to-treat regression analyses adjusted for potential confounders.

Results Anthropometric data were available for 193 children (59% retention) at age 6. There was no evidence of a difference between intervention (N=101) and control (N=92) children for BMI z-score (adjusted mean difference 0.2, 95% CI −0.1 to 0.4), overweight/obese status (20% vs 17%; adjusted OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.8) and waist circumference (adjusted mean difference −0.3, 95% CI −1.6 to 1.1). In posthoc analyses, neither infant nor childhood sleep duration were associated with anthropometric outcomes.

Conclusions A brief infant sleep intervention did not reduce overweight/obesity at 6 years. Population-based primary care sleep services seem unlikely to reduce the early childhood obesity epidemic.

Trial registration ISRCTN48752250

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