Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Covering the Topic of Weighted Blankets & Sleep in Autistic Children

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief 

Photo by Yogendra Joshi via Flickr (cropped)
Sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been identified and well-studied in prior articles published in Pediatrics. Of course, parents have sought solutions to these sleep problems, and one of those solutions readily offered online via the Internet is the use of weighted blankets to allegedly provide a better quality of sleep.

Yet studies on the effectiveness of weighted blankets compared to regular ones have been limited until this week when Gingras et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-4285) offer us a randomized placebo-controlled phase three trial of weighted blankets in 67 children with ASD between 5 and 16 years of age.

If you are a fan of using weighted blankets to improve sleep in autistic children (and a number of children and parents are), you will find the results of this study surprising and perhaps disappointing.

Are your patients with ASD using weighted blankets? Do they tell you they work? Would you still recommend one after reading this study? Share your thoughts with us via response to this blog, an eLetter or on Facebook and Twitter.

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