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1.  Sleep well—be well study: improving school transition by improving child sleep: a translational randomised trial 
BMJ Open  2013;3(10):e004009.
Introduction
The transition to primary school appears crucial for a child's future academic and psychological well-being. Addressing conditions which negatively affect children during this period, such as poor sleep, may improve these outcomes. Sleep problems are common and in a previous efficacy randomised controlled trial, we demonstrated that sleep problems can be identified and improved using school-based screening followed by a brief behavioural intervention. This trial will determine whether the same intervention is beneficial and cost-effective when delivered by an existing school-based health workforce.
Methods/design
We will recruit 334 children with sleep problems from approximately 40 schools after screening for behavioural sleep problems in the first year of formal education (Grade Prep). Schools in Melbourne, Australia will be invited to participate from a randomly ordered list of eligible schools and we will approach all caregivers of Grade Prep children. Children who have a parent-reported moderate or severe sleep problem will be randomised into either ‘usual care’ or ‘intervention’ groups. Trained nurses from the Primary School Nursing programme will deliver the sleep intervention programme. Intervention: Two to three contacts between the nurse and the parent; initial 45 min face-to-face meeting or phone call, 15 min phone call 2 weeks later and an optional second 30 min face-to-face meeting. Follow-up: 6 and 12 months postrandomisation using parent and teacher surveys and child face-to-face assessments. Primary outcome: child psychosocial functioning at 6 months. Secondary outcomes: child psychosocial functioning at 12 months and child sleep, behaviour, working memory, academic achievement and parent mental health at 6 and 12 months. Cost-effectiveness analysis will compare incremental costs to difference in child psychosocial functioning at 6 months.
Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register (ISRCTN92448857).
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004009
PMCID: PMC3816243  PMID: 24165031
2.  Probiotics to improve outcomes of colic in the community: Protocol for the Baby Biotics randomised controlled trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:135.
Background
Infant colic, characterised by excessive crying/fussing for no apparent cause, affects up to 20% of infants under three months of age and is a great burden to families, health professionals and the health system. One promising approach to improving its management is the use of oral probiotics. The Baby Biotics trial aims to determine whether the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 is effective in reducing crying in infants less than three months old (<13.0 weeks) with infant colic when compared to placebo.
Methods/Design
Design: Double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial in Melbourne, Australia. Participants: 160 breast and formula fed infants less than three months old who present either to clinical or community services and meet Wessel’s criteria of crying and/or fussing. Intervention: Oral once-daily Lactobacillus reuteri (1x108 cfu) versus placebo for one month. Primary outcome: Infant crying/fussing time per 24 hours at one month. Secondary outcomes: i) number of episodes of infant crying/fussing per 24 hours and ii) infant sleep duration per 24 hours (at 7, 14, 21, 28 days and 6 months); iii) maternal mental health scores, iv) family functioning scores, v) parent quality adjusted life years scores, and vi) intervention cost-effectiveness (at one and six months); and vii) infant faecal microbiota diversity, viii) infant faecal calprotectin levels and ix) Eschericia coli load (at one month only). Analysis: Primary and secondary outcomes for the intervention versus control groups will be compared with t tests and non-parametric tests for continuous data and chi squared tests for dichotomous data. Regression models will be used to adjust for potential confounding factors. Intention-to-treat analysis will be applied.
Discussion
An effective, practical and acceptable intervention for infant colic would represent a major clinical advance. Because our trial includes breast and formula-fed babies, our results should generalise to most babies with colic. If cost-effective, the intervention’s simplicity is such that it could be widely taken up as a new standard of care in the primary and secondary care sectors.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN95287767
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-135
PMCID: PMC3508922  PMID: 22928654
Colic; Crying; Infant; Probiotics; Randomised controlled trial; Health care costs; Postpartum depression; Mental health; Quality of life; Biota
3.  Preventing mental health problems in children: the Families in Mind population-based cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:420.
Background
Externalising and internalising problems affect one in seven school-aged children and are the single strongest predictor of mental health problems into early adolescence. As the burden of mental health problems persists globally, childhood prevention of mental health problems is paramount. Prevention can be offered to all children (universal) or to children at risk of developing mental health problems (targeted). The relative effectiveness and costs of a targeted only versus combined universal and targeted approach are unknown. This study aims to determine the effectiveness, costs and uptake of two approaches to early childhood prevention of mental health problems ie: a Combined universal-targeted approach, versus a Targeted only approach, in comparison to current primary care services (Usual care).
Methods/design
Three armed, population-level cluster randomised trial (2010–2014) within the universal, well child Maternal Child Health system, attended by more than 80% of families in Victoria, Australia at infant age eight months.
Participants were families of eight month old children from nine participating local government areas. Randomised to one of three groups: Combined, Targeted or Usual care.
The interventions comprises (a) the Combined universal and targeted program where all families are offered the universal Toddlers Without Tears group parenting program followed by the targeted Family Check-Up one-on-one program or (b) the Targeted Family Check-Up program. The Family Check-Up program is only offered to children at risk of behavioural problems.
Participants will be analysed according to the trial arm to which they were randomised, using logistic and linear regression models to compare primary and secondary outcomes. An economic evaluation (cost consequences analysis) will compare incremental costs to all incremental outcomes from a societal perspective.
Discussion
This trial will inform public health policy by making recommendations about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these early prevention programs. If effective prevention programs can be implemented at the population level, the growing burden of mental health problems could be curbed.
Trial registration
ISRCTN61137690
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-420
PMCID: PMC3458935  PMID: 22682229
4.  Baby Business: a randomised controlled trial of a universal parenting program that aims to prevent early infant sleep and cry problems and associated parental depression 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:13.
Background
Infant crying and sleep problems (e.g. frequent night waking, difficulties settling to sleep) each affect up to 30% of infants and often co-exist. They are costly to manage and associated with adverse outcomes including postnatal depression symptoms, early weaning from breast milk, and later child behaviour problems. Preventing such problems could improve these adverse outcomes and reduce costs to families and the health care system. Anticipatory guidance-i.e. providing parents with information about normal infant sleep and cry patterns, ways to encourage self-settling in infants, and ways to develop feeding and settling routines before the onset of problems-could prevent such problems. This paper outlines the protocol for our study which aims to test an anticipatory guidance approach.
Methods/Design
750 families from four Local Government Areas in Melbourne, Australia have been randomised to receive the Baby Business program (intervention group) or usual care (control group) offered by health services. The Baby Business program provides parents with information about infant sleep and crying via a DVD and booklet (mailed soon after birth), telephone consultation (at infant age 6-8 weeks) and parent group session (at infant age 12 weeks). All English speaking parents of healthy newborn infants born at > 32 weeks gestation and referred by their maternal and child health nurse at their first post partum home visit (day 7-10 postpartum), are eligible. The primary outcome is parent report of infant night time sleep as a problem at four months of age and secondary outcomes include parent report of infant daytime sleep or crying as a problem, mean duration of infant sleep and crying/24 hours, parental depression symptoms, parent sleep quality and quantity and health service use. Data will be collected at two weeks (baseline), four months and six months of age. An economic evaluation using a cost-consequences approach will, from a societal perspective, compare costs and health outcomes between the intervention and control groups.
Discussion
To our knowledge this is the first randomised controlled trial of a program which aims to prevent both infant sleeping and crying problems and associated postnatal depression symptoms. If effective, it could offer an important public health prevention approach to these common, distressing problems.
Trial registration number
ISRCTN: ISRCTN63834603
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-13
PMCID: PMC3292472  PMID: 22309617
5.  The Cool Little Kids randomised controlled trial: Population-level early prevention for anxiety disorders 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:11.
Background
The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030 internalising problems (e.g. depression and anxiety) will be second only to HIV/AIDS in international burden of disease. Internalising problems affect 1 in 7 school aged children, impacting on peer relations, school engagement, and later mental health, relationships and employment. The development of early childhood prevention for internalising problems is in its infancy. The current study follows two successful 'efficacy' trials of a parenting group intervention to reduce internalising disorders in temperamentally inhibited preschool children. Cool Little Kids is a population-level randomised trial to determine the impacts of systematically screening preschoolers for inhibition then offering a parenting group intervention, on child internalising problems and economic costs at school entry.
Methods/Design
This randomised trial will be conducted within the preschool service system, attended by more than 95% of Australian children in the year before starting school. In early 2011, preschool services in four local government areas in Melbourne, Australia, will distribute the screening tool. The ≈16% (n≈500) with temperamental inhibition will enter the trial. Intervention parents will be offered Cool Little Kids, a 6-session group program in the local community, focusing on ways to develop their child's bravery skills by reducing overprotective parenting interactions. Outcomes one and two years post-baseline will comprise child internalising diagnoses and symptoms, parenting interactions, and parent wellbeing. An economic evaluation (cost-consequences framework) will compare incremental differences in costs of the intervention versus control children to incremental differences in outcomes, from a societal perspective. Analyses will use the intention-to-treat principle, using logistic and linear regression models (binary and continuous outcomes respectively) to compare outcomes between the trial arms.
Discussion
This trial addresses gaps for internalising problems identified in the 2004 World Health Organization Prevention of Mental Disorders report. If effective and cost-effective, the intervention could readily be applied at a population level. Governments consider mental health to be a priority, enhancing the likelihood that an effective early prevention program would be adopted in Australia and internationally.
Trial Registration
ISRCTN: ISRCTN30996662
RCH Human Research Ethics Approval
30105A
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-11
PMCID: PMC3027133  PMID: 21208451
6.  Study protocol: the sleeping sound with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder project 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:101.
Background
Up to 70% of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) experience sleep problems including difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep. Sleep problems in children with ADHD can result in poorer child functioning, impacting on school attendance, daily functioning and behaviour, as well as parental mental health and work attendance. The Sleeping Sound with ADHD trial aims to investigate the efficacy of a behavioural sleep program in treating sleep problems experienced by children with ADHD. We have demonstrated the feasibility and the acceptability of this treatment program in a pilot study.
Methods/Design
This randomised controlled trial (RCT) is being conducted with 198 children (aged between 5 to 12 years) with ADHD and moderate to severe sleep problems. Children are recruited from public and private paediatric practices across the state of Victoria, Australia. Upon receiving informed written consent, families are randomised to receive either the behavioural sleep intervention or usual care. The intervention consists of two individual, face-to-face consultations and a follow-up phone call with a trained clinician (trainee consultant paediatrician or psychologist), focusing on the assessment and management of child sleep problems. The primary outcome is parent- and teacher-reported ADHD symptoms (ADHD Rating Scale IV). Secondary outcomes are child sleep (actigraphy and parent report), behaviour, daily functioning, school attendance and working memory, as well as parent mental health and work attendance. We are also assessing the impact of children's psychiatric comorbidity (measured using a structured diagnostic interview) on treatment outcome.
Discussion
To our knowledge, this is the first RCT of a behavioural intervention aiming to treat sleep problems in children with ADHD. If effective, this program will provide a feasible non-pharmacological and acceptable intervention improving child sleep and ADHD symptoms in this patient group.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN68819261.
ISRCTN: ISRCTN68819261
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-101
PMCID: PMC3022790  PMID: 21192797
7.  Improving infant sleep and maternal mental health: a cluster randomised trial 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2006;92(11):952-958.
Objectives
To determine whether a community‐delivered intervention targeting infant sleep problems improves infant sleep and maternal well‐being and to report the costs of this approach to the healthcare system.
Design
Cluster randomised trial.
Setting
49 Maternal and Child Health (MCH) centres (clusters) in Melbourne, Australia.
Participants
328 mothers reporting an infant sleep problem at 7 months recruited during October–November 2003.
Intervention
Behavioural strategies delivered over individual structured MCH consultations versus usual care.
Main outcome measures
Maternal report of infant sleep problem, depression symptoms (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)), and SF‐12 mental and physical health scores when infants were 10 and 12 months old. Costs included MCH sleep consultations, other healthcare services and intervention costs.
Results
Prevalence of infant sleep problems was lower in the intervention than control group at 10 months (56% vs 68%; adjusted OR 0.58 (95% CI: 0.36 to 0.94)) and 12 months (39% vs 55%; adjusted OR 0.50 (0.31 to 0.80)). EPDS scores indicated less depression at 10 months (adjusted mean difference −1.4 (−2.3 to −0.4) and 12 months (−1.7 (−2.6 to −0.7)). SF‐12 mental health scores indicated better health at 10 months (adjusted mean difference 3.7 (1.5 to 5.8)) and 12 months (3.9 (1.8 to 6.1)). Total mean costs including intervention design, delivery and use of non‐MCH nurse services were £96.93 and £116.79 per intervention and control family, respectively.
Conclusions
Implementing this sleep intervention may lead to health gains for infants and mothers and resource savings for the healthcare system.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trial Registry, number ISRCTN48752250 (registered November 2004).
doi:10.1136/adc.2006.099812
PMCID: PMC2083609  PMID: 17158146
8.  Universal parenting programme to prevent early childhood behavioural problems: cluster randomised trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7639):318-321.
Objective To determine whether a parenting programme, offered universally in primary care, can prevent behavioural problems in children and improve parenting and maternal mental health.
Design Cluster randomised trial.
Setting 40 primary care nursing centres (clusters) in Victoria, Australia.
Participants 733 English speaking mothers of 8 month old children sequentially recruited from well child appointments; 656 retained at 24 months.
Intervention Structured three session programme at age 8-15 months, co-led by well child providers and a parenting expert. The programme covered normal development and behaviour, strategies to increase desired behaviour, and strategies to reduce unwanted behaviour.
Main outcome measures Maternal report of child externalising behaviour (child behavior checklist 1½-5 year old), parenting (parent behavior checklist), and maternal mental health (depression anxiety stress scales) at 18 and 24 months.
Results At 18 months, child behaviour and parenting scores were similar in the two groups. At 24 months, externalising scores in the intervention and control groups were similar (mean 11.9 (SD 7.2) v 12.9 (7.4)); however, on the parent behavior checklist subscale scores, intervention group parents were less likely to report harsh/abusive parenting (mean 38.9 (SD 7.7) v 40.5 (8.8); adjusted mean difference −1.83, 95% confidence interval −3.12 to −0.55) and unreasonable expectations of child development (40.9 (9.9) v 42.7 (9.6); −2.18, −3.74 to −0.62). Mean scores for nurturing parenting and maternal mental health were similar in the two groups at both times.
Conclusions A universal parenting programme resulted in modest improvement in parenting factors that predict behavioural problems in children but did not reduce externalising behavioural problems or affect maternal mental health at 2 years.
Trial registration ISRCTN 77531789.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39451.609676.AE
PMCID: PMC2234515  PMID: 18244958
9.  Treating infant colic with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri: double blind, placebo controlled randomised trial 
Objective To determine whether the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 reduces crying or fussing in a broad community based sample of breastfed infants and formula fed infants with colic aged less than 3 months.
Design Double blind, placebo controlled randomised trial.
Setting Community based sample (primary and secondary level care centres) in Melbourne, Australia.
Participants 167 breastfed infants or formula fed infants aged less than 3 months meeting Wessel’s criteria for crying or fussing: 85 were randomised to receive probiotic and 82 to receive placebo.
Interventions Oral daily L reuteri (1×108 colony forming units) versus placebo for one month.
Main outcomes measures The primary outcome was daily duration of cry or fuss at 1 month. Secondary outcomes were duration of cry or fuss; number of cry or fuss episodes; sleep duration of infant at 7, 14, and 21 days, and 1 and 6 months; maternal mental health (Edinburgh postnatal depression subscale); family functioning (paediatric quality of life inventory), parent quality adjusted life years (assessment of quality of life) at 1 and 6 months; infant functioning (paediatric quality of life inventory) at 6 months; infant faecal microbiota (microbial diversity, colonisation with Escherichia coli), and calprotectin levels at 1 month. In intention to treat analyses the two groups were compared using regression models adjusted for potential confounders.
Results Of 167 infants randomised from August 2011 to August 2012, 127 (76%) were retained to primary outcome; of these, a subset was analysed for faecal microbial diversity, E coli colonisation, and calprotectin levels. Adherence was high. Mean daily cry or fuss time fell steadily in both groups. At 1 month, the probiotic group cried or fussed 49 minutes more than the placebo group (95% confidence interval 8 to 90 minutes, P=0.02); this mainly reflected more fussing, especially for formula fed infants. The groups were similar on all secondary outcomes. No study related adverse events occurred.
Conclusions L reuteri DSM 17938 did not benefit a community sample of breastfed infants and formula fed infants with colic. These findings differ from previous smaller trials of selected populations and do not support a general recommendation for the use of probiotics to treat colic in infants.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN95287767.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g2107
PMCID: PMC3972414  PMID: 24690625

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