Fetal sleep organization: A biological precursor of self-regulation in childhood and adolescence?

B.R.H. Van den Bergh, E.J. Mulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
345 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Fetal sleep states emerge during the third trimester of pregnancy and involve multiple interconnected neuronal networks. We examined whether fetal sleep characteristics predict child and adolescent self-regulation in a non-clinical sample (study group, n = 25; reference group, n = 48). Combined recordings of three sleep variables (fetal heart rate, body movements and rapid eye movements) were made for 2 h at 36–38 weeks’ gestation. Fetuses showing synchronous change of sleep variables (i.e. within 3 min) at transition from quiet into active sleep reached a higher level of effortful control, both at 8–9 and 14–15 years, than fetuses not making synchronous transitions and compared with the reference group. Results are discussed from a Developmental Origins of Behavior, Health and Disease (DOBHaD) point of view. It is concluded that studying sleep ontogeny offers the possibility to gain insight into brain maturational processes and/or environmental adaptive processes that may have long term behavioral developmental consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-590
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume89
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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