Jan. 16, 2004 -- A new test may save kids from having to spend the night in a laboratory.
Children who snore heavily may suffer from sleep disordered breathing. Kids with the breathing disorder don't get enough sleep. As a result, they get cranky and misbehave. They may also suffer serious medical problems.
But more than one in 10 kids is a snorer. It's hard to tell which ones have breathing disorders and need medical attention. The only way to tell is to have the child spend the night hooked up to multiple instruments in a sleep laboratory.
Kids and parents hate this. To avoid it, they've tried all kinds of tricks -- even videotaping children while they sleep. Now it looks as though there's a better way.
University of Louisville, Kentucky, researchers David Gozal, MD, and Marilee M. Burnside used a device called an acoustic pharyngometer. The device offers a measurement based on the width of the upper airway at its narrowest point, and the distance of this point from the mouth. If that seems complicated, the test is pretty simple. Kids get an anesthetic sprayed into their upper airway, and then undergo the noninvasive measurement.
Gozal and Burnside tested this technique on 247 kids. Those scoring below a certain cutoff measure were very likely to have sleep-disordered breathing.
"We now suggest that a simple noninvasive test performed during the outpatient evaluation of a snoring child affords improved accuracy to the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing in snoring children," Gozal and Burnside conclude.
The findings appear in the January 2004 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.