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The time sensitive and dose-responsive association between parental corporal punishment and sleep disturbances in preschoolers: A prospective cohort study.

BACKGROUND: To examine whether parental corporal punishment is associated with increased risk of concurrent and later sleep disturbances among preschoolers, and whether the association is time-sensitive or dose-responsive.

METHODS: This 3-year prospective cohort study used data from the Shanghai Children's Health, Education and Lifestyle Evaluation, Preschool(SCHEDULE-P). Participants were newly enrolled preschoolers in November 2016(wave 1) and followed up in April 2018(wave 2) and April 2019(wave 3). Parents reported the children's corporal punishment experiences and sleep disturbances at each wave survey. Children's risk of sleep disturbances in relation to corporal punishment was examined using logistic regression, adjusting for children's age, gender, emotional/behavioral problems, family annual income, and maternal educational level.

RESULTS: The participants of 19,668 children included 9436(47.98 %) females, with a mean age of 3.73(SD = 0.29) years at wave 1. Exposure to corporal punishment was associated with increased odds of concurrent sleep disturbances at wave 1, 2, and 3 (aOR,1.57; 95 % CI, 1.40-1.75; P < .001; aOR,1.60; 95 % CI, 1.43-1.80; P < .001; aOR,1.74; 95 % CI, 1.54-1.95; P < .001), respectively. Exposure to corporal punishment at any wave of preschool was associated with increased odds of sleep disturbances at wave 3, and the risks were greater for proximal and accumulative corporal punishment exposure.

CONCLUSION: There is a time-sensitive and dose-responsive association between corporal punishment and sleep disturbance among preschoolers, with greater risk of sleep disturbances for proximal and accumulative exposure of corporal punishment. Promoting positive parenting strategies and avoiding corporal punishment can be a promising strategy to prevent and intervene sleep disturbances in preschoolers.

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