Screening service coming for kids with sleep disturbances
Broken Hill Health Service will soon offer a screening service for children and young people who are suspected of having sleep disturbance due to breathing difficulties.
The Paediatric Unit at the hospital will soon be able to make overnight oximetry recordings that will mean that a child's referral to a specialist will be accompanied by evidence of the condition's impact.
This test conducted locally will help children in the FWLHD who need a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, get their procedure done quicker, said Elizabeth Kepreotes, Clinical Nurse Consultant - Paediatrics at Far West LHD.
'Some children have been waiting for surgery because of the pandemic disruption and long waitlists,' she said.
'This new screening service will help to identify those children who require the earliest intervention for the most serious impacts of sleep-disordered breathing, expediting their care,' she said. Tertiary Sleep Units around Australia have experienced closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so their waitlists are now extensive.
Referral for overnight oximetry recording can be made by General Practitioners to the Paediatrician at the Broken Hill Health Service. Parents will then be contacted when an overnight admission is available. During the admission, the child will sleep with a small probe pegged to a finger so that a recording of breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels is obtained. A parent is welcome to room-in with the child and COVID-19 precautions will continue in line with the current NSW Health advice.
Mrs Kepreotes said sleep disturbance for premature babies may be due to pauses in breathing (apnoea) that occur because the brain is immature and still developing. In young children, large tonsils and adenoids may cause obstruction in the airway so that the child has to rouse from sleep to get a full breath in. Other children may experience sleep apnoea because of genetic conditions that cause muscle weakness or airway limitations.
When apnoea occurs multiple times each night and for prolonged periods, the child has poor quality sleep resulting in daytime sleepiness that affects growth, quality of life, and learning potential. Early identification of sleep-disordered breathing allows for referral to a specialist team who can treat or manage the cause.
Referral for a sleep disorder test may be made to an Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon if obstruction is identified, or to a Sleep Specialist if a formal sleep study (Polysomnography) is needed. The specialist will then be able to determine more accurately when the child needs to be seen.
Mrs Kepreotes said this new screening service for children and young people will be available soon.