A new study has revealed that sleep disorders in children and teens go largely under-diagnosed.
Lead author Dr. Lisa Meltzer obtained data from 32 primary care paediatric practices affiliated with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Her study paper reveals that information was gathered by chart review for 154,957 patients, ranging in age from 0 to 18 years.
The study revealed that less than four percent (5750 children) were diagnosed with a sleep disorder. The most common diagnoses were sleep disorders that are "not otherwise specified" (1.42 percent), enuresis - or bedwetting (1.24 percent), sleep disordered breathing (1.04 percent), and insomnia (0.05 percent).
Dr. Meltzer says that the rate of diagnosis found in this study is significantly lower than prevalence rates reported in epidemiological studies.
"Sleep is often discussed during check-ups for young children, but it may not come up as a topic with teenagers, resulting in an under diagnosis of sleep disorders for this group of adolescents. Pediatricians should ask about sleep during every well-child visit. Children who snore, have problems falling asleep, are difficult to wake in the morning, or who fall asleep in school should be further evaluated for sleep disorders," said Meltzer.
Considering that sleep problems in children can adversely affect their learning, growth and development, the authors suggest that paediatricians receive education and support in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.
A presentation on the study was made at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.