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Frequent Childhood Nightmares May Presage Adolescent Psychoses — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 3, 2014

Frequent Childhood Nightmares May Presage Adolescent Psychoses

By Joe Elia

Children with frequent nightmares or night terrors are more likely to have psychotic experiences at age 12, a prospective study in Sleep finds.

Nearly 7,000 U.K. children were followed from age 2 to 12. Between ages 2 and 9, their mothers answered questionnaires about the children's sleep problems. At age 12, children were interviewed about psychotic symptoms over the previous 6 months. Symptoms included visual or auditory hallucinations, delusions of grandiosity, or being able to read others' thoughts (or having one's own read).

Those whose mothers reported their having had frequent nightmares showed a nearly 20% higher relative risk for psychoses at age 12, with risks increasing with greater reported nightmare frequency. Night terrors were also associated with increased psychosis risk.

The authors say that identifying children at risk "could potentially lead to more effective targeting of sleep or psychological interventions."

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