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Parental Insomnia Can Harm Adolescent Children
Date:6/12/2008

Study finds these kids more likely to have insomnia, suicidal thoughts

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescent children of parents who suffer from chronic insomnia have a higher risk not only for insomnia themselves, but also for suicidal behavior and for using drugs that induce sleep.

If parents have insomnia, health-care workers or teachers may need to focus on the children, because they are at risk for suicidal behavior and other problems, added study author Dr. Xianchen Liu, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Liu was expected to present his findings Thursday at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Baltimore.

"It means we can do interventions or prevention for these children at risk," he added.

"If there is a family history of insomnia, we probably need to be looking at treating the whole family entity, parents as well, to make an impact on the children," said Donna Arand, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and clinical director of Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio.

"We take a [family] history, but when we're treating, our focus is usually on the patient we have in front of us and work at that level," Arand said, adding that only a few research studies have focused on offspring of people with insomnia.

Yet insomnia, which refers to a number of sleep disturbances including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early, does seem to have a familial component and is also a very prevalent sleep disorder. According to the sleep academy, some 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia, while less than 10 percent have chronic insomnia.

For this study, 450 boys and 348 girls, mean age just over 14, completed a sleep and health questionnaire. Both children of insomniacs and non-insomniacs were included.

Children of insomniac parents wer
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