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Sleeping problems in mothers and fathers of patients suffering from congenital central hypoventilation syndrome



Advanced medical technology has resulted in an increased survival rate of children suffering from congenital central hypoventilation syndrome. After hospitalization, these technology-dependent patients require special home care for assuring ventilator support and the monitoring of vital parameters mainly during sleep. The daily challenges associated with caring for these children can place primary caregivers under significant stress, especially at night. Our study aimed at investigating how this condition affects mothers and fathers by producing poor sleep quality, high-level diurnal sleepiness, anxiety, and depression.


The study included parents of 23 subjects with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome and 23 healthy subjects. All parents filled out the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire, Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).


A comparison between the two groups showed that parents of patients had poorer sleep quality, greater sleepiness, and higher BDI-II scores compared to that of parents of healthy subjects (respectively, PSQI score 6.5 vs 3.8, ESS score 6.2 vs 4.3, BDI-II score 8.4 vs 5.7). Specifically, mothers of patients showed poorer sleep quality and higher BDI-II scores compared to that of mothers of controls (respectively, PSQI score 7.5 vs 3.8, BDI-II score 9.3 vs 5.9), whereas fathers of patients showed greater levels of sleepiness with respect to fathers of healthy children (respectively, ESS score 6.8 vs 4.0). These differences emerged in parents of younger children.


Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome impacts the family with different consequences for mothers and fathers. Indeed, while the patients’ sleep is safeguarded, sleeping problems may occur in primary caregivers often associated with other psychological disorders. Specifically, this disease affects sleep quality and mood in the mothers and sleepiness levels in the fathers.

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Our grateful thanks to the Italian Association of Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome, which was very helpful in recruiting the families. We also thank the parents who participated in this study and Susan Cadby for revising the English language aspects of this paper.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Fiorenza Giganti.

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Paddeu, E.M., Giganti, F., Piumelli, R. et al. Sleeping problems in mothers and fathers of patients suffering from congenital central hypoventilation syndrome. Sleep Breath 19, 1057–1064 (2015).

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  • Sleep quality
  • Sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome