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Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Lowers Risk of Maternal, Infant Sleep Disorders

Mother's who follow the DASH dietary pattern experience better sleep health for themselves and their infants, according to new study.

Individuals who adhere to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary pattern (DP) are less likely to experience sleep disorders, particularly for mothers and their infants. Because diet and sleep are prominent components of a mother's health, investigators decided to evaluate how much of an impact dietary adherence actually had on sleep health.

Assessing Dietary Adherence and Outcomes

Samira Karbasi, Department of Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases Research Center, Birjand University of Medical Sciences, and a team of investigators included 350 mothers who were breastfeeding in their analysis. A set of questionnaires were used to assess psychological functions: Quality-of-Life Questionnaire (QLQ), Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Spielberger Anxiety Questionnaire (SAQ), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and Infant Sleep Questionnaire (ISQ).

Severe insomnia symptoms affect 14-76% of expectant mothers and 87.5% of postpartum women. Experiencing sleep disruptions during pregnancy can impact the sleep patterns of the offspring, according to investigators.

Additionally, inflammatory cytokine levels could increase due to short maternal sleep and sleep-disordered breathing, which has the potential to lead to infant developmental disorder. Investigators pointed out a bidirectional association between the duration of diet participation and sleep quality in this population.

Maternal Common Mental Disorder (CMD) is a leading cause of illness among low and middle-income societies. The presence of this disorder, which is characterized by depression, anxiety, and additional somatic symptoms, indicates a possible risk for poor infant development growth.

The DASH Diet

The DASH dietary pattern has been around for 30 years and is still recommended by physicians for high blood pressure management. The structured diet is known to reduce salt, saturated fat, and trans fat intake. It also increases magnesium, potassium, calcium, fiber, and protein which helps to lower blood pressure. The regimen is includes:

  • 6–8 daily servings of grains or grain products
  • 4–5 daily servings of vegetables and fruit
  • 2–3 daily servings of low-fat dairy foods
  • 2 daily servings of meat, poultry, or fish
  • 2–3 daily servings of fats and oils
  • 2300 mg/day of sodium
  • 4–5 weekly servings of nuts, seeds, or dry beans
  • 5 weekly servings of sweets for every 2000 cal consumed

Participating mothers and infants were recruited from 4 areas in Birjand, South Khorasan, Iran. Inclusion criteria consisted of having an infant of 1-6 months, no history of psychological disorders and between the ages of 20-35 years. Additionally, those who used anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, or antidepressant medications within the last year were excluded.

The Results

Significantly lower scores of maternal sleep latency were observed in those with the highest adherence to DASH, as well as sleep disorders and higher sleep efficiency as compared to those with the lowest adherence.

When focusing on the infants of mothers with higher adherence to a DASH, they demonstrated a lower rate of sleep disorders when compared with infants of those who had low adherence.

“After controlling for the mother’s education, economic status, age, body mass index (BMI), and energy intake, adherence to the DASH pattern was associated with shorter sleep latency, fewer sleep disorders in mothers and their infants as well as high maternal sleep efficiency,” investigators wrote. 

The study, “Association between adherence to the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet and maternal and infant sleep disorders” was published in BioMedCentral.