ABSTRACT: The use of behaviorally defined sleep and wake states for detecting or predicting abnormal development in high risk newborn infants is addressed. One case of a relatively low risk 32-week gestation infant is used to illustrate that immediate subjective impressions by a trained observer may reveal information useful to the medical staff without having to wait for the lengthy computer analyses usually performed with this assessment technique. A second case illustrates a situation in which sleep/wake assessment by a trained observer assisted the medical team in confirming their diagnosis of massive brain damage and loss of function in an anencephalic newborn. The use of sleep variables in evaluating other behavioral and medical conditions in the young infant is also discussed.
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Darlene T. DeSantis, Ph.D.
Darlene DeSantis is Assistant Professor of Psychology at West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania. She specializes in developmental psychobiology, early assessment, early intervention, and parent-young interactions in high risk infants and animal models. Subjects were observed at North Carolina Memorial Hospital-Chapel Hill; the preterm study was partially funded by grants to the Division of Physical Therapy. Address correspondence to the author at Department of Psychology, West Chester University, West Chester, PA 19383.