Sleep disorders are common problems among all age groups. If sleep problems detected in childhood are not resolved successfully, they become sleep disorders and a chronic state. In this study, we aimed to compare sleep problems between preterm-born and term-born preschool-age children.
In the cross-sectional study, children were grouped according to whether they were born preterm or at term. The preterm group included 137 children aged four to six years. The control group comprised 145 age-matched term-born preschool children. The prenatal, natal, demographical, and clinical characteristics of preterm- and term-born preschool-age children were compared. The Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ) was used to identify sleep problems. The total score and subscores of the CSHQ were compared between the groups.
The percentage of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) symptoms and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) symptoms were significantly higher in the preterm group. According to the cutoff point of the CSHQ, 97 children in the preterm group (70.8%) and 88 children in the control group (60.7%) had a sleep disorder. The total score of the CSHQ was significantly higher in the preterm group compared with the control group; however, the scores of the subscales were similar between the groups. In the regression analysis, a significant association was found between being born preterm and having sleep disorder (β = 0.308, OR = 1.36, p = 0.04).
Our study reported a high percentage of sleep problems in preterm-born preschool children. We suggest that prematurity is associated with sleep problems even if the etiology of sleep problems is heterogeneous. Symptoms regarding GER and OAS should be investigated, and precautions, such as prohibiting maternal cigarette smoking, should be taken in preterm infants.

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