Is There a link between Separation Anxiety Trajectory in Early Childhood & Risk for Sleep Bruxism?

Research Paper Title

High separation anxiety trajectory in early childhood is a risk factor for sleep bruxism at age 7.

Background

The evolution of sleep bruxism manifestations and their co-occurrence with separation anxiety in early childhood remain unclear.

The researchers threefold aim was to:

  1. Describe developmental sleep bruxism trajectories in early childhood;
  2. Investigate co-occurrences between trajectories of sleep bruxism and separation anxiety; and
  3. Determine whether distinct trajectories of separation anxiety increase the risk of presenting sleep bruxism during the first year of elementary school.

Methods

This study is part of the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.

Sleep bruxism scores were assessed from age 1.5 to 7 years with the Self-Administered Questionnaire for Mother (n=1,946).

Separation anxiety scores were measured from age 1.5 to 6 years with the Interviewer-Completed Computerised Questionnaire (n=2,045).

Results

The researchers identified:

  • Four sleep bruxism trajectories from age 1.5 to 6 years:
    • High-Increasing sleep bruxism at age 1.5 (14.1%);
    • High-Increasing sleep bruxism at age 4 (18.3%);
    • Low-Persistent sleep bruxism (12.1%); and
    • Never-Persistent sleep bruxism (55.5%).
  • Four separation anxiety trajectories from age 1.5 to 6 years:
    • Low-Persistent separation anxiety (60.2%);
    • High-Increasing separation anxiety (6.9%);
    • High-Decreasing separation anxiety (10.8%); and
    • Low-Increasing separation anxiety (22.1%).

Sleep bruxism and separation anxiety trajectories were weakly associated (X2=37.84, P<0.001).

Compared with preschoolers belonging to the Low-Persistent separation anxiety trajectory, preschoolers in the High-Increasing separation anxiety trajectory had almost double the risk of presenting sleep bruxism at age 7 (95% CI=1.25-3.22, P=.04).

Conclusions

When separation anxiety issues are detected in early childhood, it would be useful to target sleep bruxism during the first year of elementary school.

Reference

Rostami, E.G., Touchette, É., Huynh, N., Montplaisir, J., Tremblay, R.E., Battaglia, M. & Boivin, M. (2020) High separation anxiety trajectory in early childhood is a risk factor for sleep bruxism at age 7.

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