Marital Discord Disruptive to Infants Sleep

Sleeping difficulties more often come from homes where marital strife is present

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Happy homes make happy children. Can one say the same thing about infants? Infants in a home where marital strife abides have a much more difficult time getting restful sleep, according to a new study from Oregon State University.

This is the first study done on the link between marital issues and infant sleep that takes out the genetic factors, because adopted children were included in this study.

"Address marital issues soon before it affects your infant."

Anne Mannering, an Oregon State University faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, shares that if sleep problems persist, this can lead to the infant having future problems in school, attention challenges and behavioral issues.

Mannering continues to encourage parents to be aware that stress in  marriage can potentially affect all children even at a very young age.

Mannerling continued that the study's findings suggest that the association between marital discord and children's subsequent sleep problems emerges earlier in a child's life than previously thought. Marital problems present when children were nine months old increased the probability of the sleep problems continuing when children were twice as old, at 18 months.

Researchers did not find the reverse to be true: children's sleep problems did not predict marital instability. In other words, the child's sleeping problems weren't causing marital problems.

The research team is currently investigating whether the relationship between marital instability and child sleep problems persists after the age of two.

The Study

  • Couples in the study were predominately middle class, caucasian and fairly educated
  • All adopted children were adopted within the first three months of birth
  • Researchers interviewed more than 350 families with adopted infants in order to eliminate the possibility that these shared genes may influence the relationship between marital instability and infant sleep problems
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Review Date: 
May 11, 2011
Last Updated:
May 12, 2011