An antihistamine often recommended to parents whose infants do not sleep through the night may not be effective in reducing nighttime awakenings or improving parents’ happiness with their children’s sleep, according to a new report.
In the study, doctors conducted a trial of diphenhy-dramine in 44 children ages six months to 15 months who slept in cribs. Parents in the study had all reported that their children woke up two or more times per night.
The participating infants were randomly assigned to receive 100ml of diphenhydramine or placebo in a cherry-flavored liquid 30 minutes before bedtime for one week. Parents reported whether the child had fewer awakenings that required parental intervention during that week and also tracked their child’s sleep in a diary for the first 28 days.
At four points during the first 43 days of the study, parents were asked to rate their happiness with their children’s sleep on a scale of one to 10. Three of 22 participants in the placebo group and one of 22 participants in the diphenhydramine group had fewer nighttime awakenings during the week in which the infants were taking medication. Two additional parents in the placebo group reported improvement in nighttime awakenings four weeks and six weeks later.
There was no difference between the two groups in parents’ reports of how happy they were with their children’s sleep at any point during the study. On 6 June 2005, the trial was stopped because of the apparent lack of effectiveness of diphenhydramine.