A new technique that can determine whether a child has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or habitual snoring, by screening their urine has found, say scientists.
Researchers at the University of Chicago studied 90 children, referred to the sleep clinic to be evaluated for suspected sleep disordered breathing.
Also, 30 non-snoring children were roped in to serve as controls.
The children were made to undergo standard overnight polysomnography and were categorized either as having OSA, habitual snoring or no sleep disordered breathing.
A sophisticated electrophoresis technique was used to screen hundreds of proteins in the urine.
The researchers observed that a number of proteins were differently expressed in children with OSA compared to children with habitual snoring or healthy, non-snoring children.
Lead author David Gozal, M.D., professor and chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Chicago, said: "It was rather unexpected that the urine would provide us with the ability to identify OSA.
"However, the field of biomarkers is one that is under marked expansion and this certainly opens the way for possible simple diagnostic screening methods in the future."
"We wish to validate these findings in urine samples from many children from laboratories around the country and to develop a simple color-based test that can be done in the physician office or by the parents,"
He concluded: "These findings open up the possibility of developing a relatively simple urine test that could detect OSA in snoring children.
"This would alleviate the need for costly and inconvenient sleep studies in children who snore, only about 20 to 30 percent of whom actually have OSA,"
OSA can lead to cognitive, behavioral, cardiovascular and metabolic consequences in children.
The study was published in the December 15 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.