Irregularities Are Largely Underdiagnosed

photo: sleeping child

Sleep disorders in children and
teens are often not diagnosed;
© Kehnen/

The study obtained data from 32 primary care pediatric practices affiliated with the Children's Hospital. Information was gathered by chart review for 154,957 patients, ranging in age from 0 to 18 years. Results show 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).

According to the psychologist Lisa Meltzer, 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," said Meltzer. "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."

Because sleep problems in children can have a major impact on learning, growth and development, the researchers advise that it is important for pediatricians to receive education and support in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.; Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine