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Study: Sleep Disorders Underdiagnosed Among Kids With Cerebral Palsy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Sleep disorders are going untreated and under-reported among children who have cerebral palsy (CP), according to a study.

The recently published study from Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare found that children who have CP are more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea – especially if the CP is severe or combined with epilepsy.

However, sleep disorders are going untreated and underdiagnosed among those with CP, the study said. According to Dr. John Garcia, that's a problem because it results in fewer gains in treatments, and it increases the chances of seizures and contract respiratory illnesses.

"This is a vulnerable population to begin with, so the stakes are higher," Garcia said. "Obstructive sleep disorders make life really tough for anybody, but even more so for kids who have CP."

The study also found that children with CP are more likely to be accurately diagnosed with a sleep disorder if they are routinely screened with a questionnaire.

"Anyone who has CP should be screened for a sleep disorder – it should be standard practice," Garcia said. "We can improve quality of life for our patients."

Treatment once diagnosed includes an upper airway surgery or the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device. After treatment, health officials say that patients see improvements such as fewer seizures, increased mobility and better health.

Gillette Children's is located on 200 University Ave. E. in St. Paul.

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