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A systematic review of prevention and treatment of infant behavioural sleep problems

Author: Reuter et al. (2020)

Methods: Systematic review based on a search in MEDLINE, Web of Science and PsychINFO in December 2017 for articles published in English during 2007-2017 about preventive and treatment interventions for sleep problems in infants. The review included controlled trials and meta-analyses with at least 20 infants in study groups assessed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation criteria.

Results: Out of 476 original articles assessed for eligibility, 12 studies were included in the synthesis. Interventions with behavioural, educational and massage strategies were evaluated. No intervention was evaluated in more than one trial. Five interventions with behavioural methods for establishing consistent routines or controlled crying showed modest short-term effects, while the evidence for elements of education was inconsistent. Studies of massage were of poor quality. Knowledge gaps were identified regarding interventions in cross-cultural context, involving fathers, in children below six months of age, in high-risk populations and consequences of interventions that include extinction.

Conclusion: Some support for short-term effects of behavioural treatment strategies was found, but more studies are needed to establish evidence.

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