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Diagnosing Pediatric Sleep Disorders

For children suffering from sleep disturbances, accurate diagnosis and treatment is essential in establishing the patterns needed for proper growth and development.

Parents/caretakers of children who need a sleep evaluation may be required to complete a Sleep Questionnaire as well as a Two-Week Sleep Diary. This information will help the sleep medicine physician better understand your child’s sleep problems prior to the sleep clinic visit.
 
During a clinic visit, a board-certified pediatric sleep medicine specialist will obtain additional necessary information from the parents about the child's sleep problem and conduct a thorough physical examination of the child. If necessary, additional blood tests may be performed, particularly for overweight and obese children. These tests measure fasting blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. If it's determined that an overnight sleep study (polysonomogram) is required, our team will work with parents/caretakers to schedule a convenient time for the study to take place at one of our sleep laboratories.

Overnight Sleep Studies and Sleep Laboratories?
Often, the best way to diagnose a sleep disorder is to observe a child while they're sleeping and to record several measures that can help pinpoint the cause of a sleep problem. University of Chicago pediatric sleep medicine experts oversee sleep medicine laboratories and provide expert interpretation of sleep studies.

Our comfortable, child-friendly sleep labs are specially equipped with the latest technology, and are staffed by certified sleep technologists who are thoroughly trained in conducting sleep studies on children. Types of sleep studies offered include the following:

Overnight Sleep Study (Polysomnogram) ?During a routine overnight sleep study (polysomnogram), data are gathered from multiple tests to be analyzed together to determine a proper diagnosis. Electrodes are attached to the surface of the child's skin and connected back to machines to record data for the following tests:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), to monitor brain activity and aid in diagnosis of possible seizure disorders.
  • Electroculogram (EOG), which are tests that record eye movements to determine when REM sleep occurs.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), to monitor electrical activity of the heart.
  • Electromyogram (EMG), to measure muscle tension and to aid in the diagnosis of limb movement disorders.

Additional body sensors will be placed to assess breathing and respiratory functions. We also perform pulse oximetry to measure blood oxygen levels. A video camera will record the study as well, and a sleep technologist is always nearby throughout the study.

Multiple Sleep Latency Testing (MSLT) ?Multiple sleep latency testing is a special type of sleep study that is performed during the day to examine reasons for excessive daytime sleepiness. The test is also used to determine if current treatments for sleep breathing disorders are working. Most of the same measures recorded for an overnight sleep study are taken during an MSLT. During the test, the child naps for a period of time and is awoken at periodic intervals. MSLT for children is a specialized test that is best performed in a sleep lab experienced in conducting pediatric sleep studies.

Additional Sleep Tests for Children with Complex Needs:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) titration studies for children with sleep apnea.
  • Ventilator titration studies for children who rely on ventilators to breathe.
  • Studies for children who have tracheostomies, such as for severe sleep apnea or following surgery.
  • Oxygen titration studies for patients with severe lung disease.
  • Specialized tests to monitor seizure disorders (epilepsy).
  • Studies to evaluate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) during sleep.