Mieux comprendre les liens entre le sommeil du nourrisson, les interactions mère-enfant, la santé mentale des parents, et la santé mentale et physique des enfants: une perspective familiale


Marie-Hélène Pennestri

Université McGill


Domaine : santé de la mère, des enfants et des adolescents

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2018-2019

Becoming a parent represents an important transition and lack of sleep is only one of the many challenges parents are facing. My research program aims to better understand the developmental process in which infants consolidate their sleep (also known as "sleeping through the night" and the impacts of this process on 1) the quality of mother-child interactions, 2) parental mental health, 3) child's physical and mental health. Sleep concerns are one of the most common reasons for pediatric consultation, even in nonclinical populations and has major impacts on every family member.  The association between poor sleep and poor health is well documented in children and adolescents.

However, we do not understand mechanisms underlying this association, especially in infants. We propose a better understanding of risk and protective factors, in order to identify vulnerable families. Results of my research program will help developing interventions aiming at a) improving sleep in children and parents, and b) to provide better and more realistic knowledge of child sleep to expectant and new mothers and new fathers as a useful intervention avenue for promoting optimal parental mental health. This research program has a good potential for knowledge transfer with both families and health professionals. Incorporating both mothers' and fathers' point of view will advance knowledge in the field of transition to parenthood.