Assessments and Interventions for Sleep Disorders in Infants With or at High Risk for Cerebral Palsy: A Systematic Review

Pediatr Neurol. 2021 May;118:57-71. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2020.10.015. Epub 2020 Nov 3.


Background: Children with cerebral palsy (CP) are five times more likely than typically developing children to have sleep problems, resulting in adverse outcomes for both children and their families. The purpose of this systematic review was to gather current evidence regarding assessments and interventions for sleep in children under age 2 years with or at high risk for CP and integrate these findings with parent preferences.

Methods: Five databases (CINAHL, EMBASE, OVID/Medline, SCOPUS, and PsycINFO) were searched. Included articles were screened using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses guidelines, and quality of the evidence was reviewed using best evidence tools by two independent reviewers at minimum. An online survey was conducted regarding parent preferences through social media channels.

Results: Eleven articles met inclusion criteria. Polysomnography emerged as the only high-quality assessment for the population. Three interventions (medical cannabis, surgical interventions, and auditory, tactile, visual, and vestibular stimulations) were identified; however, each only had one study of effectiveness. The quality of evidence for polysomnography was moderate, while the quality and quantity of the evidence regarding interventions was low. Survey respondents indicated that sleep assessments and interventions are highly valued, with caregiver-provided interventions ranked as the most preferable.

Conclusions: Further research is needed to validate affordable and feasible sleep assessments compared to polysomnography as the reference standard. In the absence of diagnosis-specific evidence of safety and efficacy of sleep interventions specific to young children with CP, it is conditionally recommended that clinicians follow guidelines for safe sleep interventions for typically developing children.

Keywords: Assessment; Cerebral palsy; Child; Infant; Intervention; Sleep; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / complications*
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*