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Sleep Disturbances in Mothers of Children with AD

JAMA Dermatol; ePub 2019 Mar 20; Ramirez, et al

Throughout their child’s first 11 years, mothers of children with atopic dermatitis (AD) reported sleep disturbances and daytime exhaustion, a new study found. The cohort study included 11,649 mother-child pairs who were followed for a median duration of 11 years and compared sleep disturbances over time between mothers of children with and without AD. It also sought to determine whether these disturbances are associated with the child’s disease severity and the child’s sleep disturbances. Researchers found:

  • Sleep duration and early morning awakenings were similar between mothers of children with and without AD.
  • Conversely, mothers of children with AD were more likely to report difficulty falling asleep, subjectively insufficient sleep, and daytime exhaustion.
  • For all measures, worse child AD severity was associated with worse maternal sleep outcomes.
  • However, child sleep disturbances did not fully explain maternal sleep disturbances.


Ramirez FD, Chen S, Langan SM, et al. Assessment of sleep disturbances and exhaustion in mothers of children with atopic dermatitis. [Published online ahead of print March 20, 2019]. JAMA Dermatol. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.5641.


This study confirms what has long been expected, namely that activity of AD is positively correlated with poor sleep quality. Interestingly, many atopic children had poor sleep quality that wasn't totally related to scratching, suggesting some other mechanisms may account for the reduction in sleep quality. One factor that was not addressed by this study is the use of sedating antihistamines, which are often prescribed for their somnolent effects. — Joseph Fowler, Jr., MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Louisville, KY