Poor sleep in children with cystic fibrosis linked to poor mood, depression

A new study has shown that children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis (CF) experience poor sleep that may impact their mood and quality of life, and this could even be associated with depression.

Professor Rosemary Horne

The study, led by Professor Rosemary Horne’s team at Hudson Institute of Medical Research in collaboration with Monash University and the Royal Children’s Hospital, has been published in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.

Many people with CF experience breathing difficulties. Prof Horne’s previous research has shown that children with CF wake more during the night and get less sleep than their healthy peers.

The new study shows how sleeplessness impacts mood and quality of life during daylight hours in children with CF differently, depending on their age group.

What is cystic fibrosis (CF)?

·        CF is a genetic condition affecting 1 in 2874 births. CF is the most common, inherited life-limiting disease affecting Australian children. There is currently no cure.

·        The condition primarily affects the lungs and digestive system due to a malfunction in the exocrine system that is responsible for producing saliva, sweat, tears and mucus.

·        Due to this missing gene, people with CF develop an abnormal amount of excessively thick and sticky mucus within the lungs, airways and the digestive system.

·        With newborn screening and improved treatment of CF, life expectancy has significantly increased but many patients experience a considerable daily symptom and treatment burden which reduces their quality of life.

“We found that both children and adolescents with CF had poorer sleep quality and exhibited more sleepiness during the day, which impacted their quality of life. In the children, poor sleep was also related to lower mood,” Prof Horne says.

“With continued improvements in life expectancy for individuals with CF there is an increased emphasis on understanding the impact of co-morbidities, treatments and psychosocial factors to optimise factors that influence quality of life.”

Prof Horne says getting sufficient sleep is essential for physical and psychological well-being in healthy children and should be considered as part of treatment plans for children with CF.

“Screening for sleep problems is not currently a standard of care for children with CF. However, many sleep problems are treatable and improvements in sleep could significantly help to improve quality of life in people with CF,” she says.

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