Exploring the importance of sleep behaviours for BRAIN DEVELOPMENT in infants

28 March 2017 - INFANT, a world leading Science Foundation Ireland funded research Centre at University College Cork (UCC) and Cork University Maternity Hospital, announced today that it will collaborate with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Services EAME Ltd. (hereinafter known as Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.) for the Baby Enrichment Research Programme (ENRICH) to explore the effects of sleep on baby brain development. The collaboration was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. The announcement comes at the same time as World Sleep Day, an awareness programme engaging 72 countries around the world in a global call to action about the importance of sleep. 

The ENRICH research programme aims to understand the effects of sleep behaviours on the cognitive development of infants. Results from the study aim to help to promote early and lifelong health as sleep is essential for brain development in infants. This research programme will examine detailed information about sleep in infants using both parental observations and objective brain activity measurement (EEG). 

Launching the ENRICH project, Prof Geraldine Boylan, co-director of the INFANT Centre said, “this unique collaboration is a fantastic opportunity. It will combine Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.’s research on the importance of multi-sensorial experiences for babies with INFANT’s international expertise in infant brain monitoring and assessment. We know that sleep and sensory stimulation are extremely important for babies and the ENRICH project will provide us with information about the effects of lifestyle, sensory stimulation and sleep behaviours on the cognitive development of infants.” 

This international study will invite 200 parents to enroll their babies to the study over twelve months at both Cork University Maternity Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. The babies will be monitored until they are 18 months old, providing crucial evidence on the importance of sleep and facilitate the rapid and direct translation of the ENRICH research findings to the market.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “I welcome the collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and INFANT. ENRICH will provide researchers with evidence to promote simple interventions in infancy that enhance brain development. This research has the potential to have enormous impact in terms of lifelong health and well-being. We are very happy to see Ireland’s health researchers continuing to work with industry and foster research and innovation in our health care services.” 

Evidence from the ENRICH study may inform intervention programmes and new product development to support the optimal environment and habits for early days and lifelong health.