Healthy Living

Dead Air: The Perils of Sleep Apnea

Ongoing Scientific Efforts at an Early Diagnosis

Like any other chronic condition, obstructive sleep apnea is easier to beat with an early diagnosis, but it can be challenging to correctly diagnose as it only occurs during sleep coupled with the scarcity of pediatric sleep laboratories and certified pediatric sleep specialists. This effort is even more problematic in developing countries with the lack of proper sleep research facilities and staff.

A team of researchers at the University of Chicago led by pediatrics professor David Gozal, MD, MBA, recently released a study entitled Nocturnal Oximetry-Based Evaluation of Habitually Snoring Children, which utilized computer analysis of blood oxygen levels during sleep in children who showed early classic symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. The methodology of the study is considered to be a simplified polysomnography focused only on oximetry and assessed more than 4,000 suspected pediatric OSA cases within age range two to 18 years. Oximetry alone is accurate enough to detect 75% of the mild OSA cases, 82% of the moderate cases, and 90% of the severe cases.

This scientific effort is groundbreaking in that it cuts the cost of conducting sleep studies by as much as 90% to 95% and grants easy access to everyone who might require them. Early diagnosis is now possible as the method is completely non-invasive and does not require specialized facilities and staff.