Health Scan: Dangerous Sleep

Study: Sleep apnea is also a problem for young children

sleep 88 (photo credit: )
sleep 88
(photo credit: )
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - in which individuals stop breathing momentarily while sleeping - can cause similar cardiovascular complications in young children as it does in older children and adults, according to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers headed by Dr. Aviv Goldbart. The study is reportedly the first to examine the relationship between systemic inflammation and cardiovascular morbidity in children. OSA is a common disorder in which the sleeper has one or more pauses in breathing, or shallow breaths. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes, and often occur five to 30 times or more per hour. OSA is the leading cause of daytime sleepiness, and if left untreated can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, obesity and diabetes. Goldbart is a member of BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences and a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. The results were presented at the American Thoracic Society's 104th International Conference in Toronto at the end of May. "OSA starts from the first year of life, yet very little is known regarding the cognitive, cardiovascular and other medical consequences," Goldbart explains. The research group assessed 70 toddlers aged 12 to 26 months whose OSA was confirmed by polysomnography. The children were scheduled to undergo removal of their adenoids and tonsils. On the morning of their surgery, they were tested to determine levels of N-Terminal pro-B type Natriuretic Peptide (NTproBNP) - a peptide marker for inflammation and C-reactive protein (CRP). Compared to controls, 46 children with OSA had significantly higher levels of NTproBNP; three months after surgery, 20 children were evaluated. The average levels of NTproBNP and CRP had dropped below that of the control group. "It's important to determine how closely related these two factors were in young children," said Goldbart. "It allows us to test for the inflammatory factor much earlier, and monitor the children in case surgery may be needed to correct the disorder and avoid debilitating cardiovascular conditions later in life." "Increased levels of CRP in children with OSA may require cardiovascular assessment," added Goldbart, "but further studies are needed first to determine the need to diagnose and treat OSA at a very young age." BETTER SALIVA TESTING A novel device that enhances the diagnostic value of saliva has been produced by Hebrew University researchers. The disposable device clears whole saliva from its major protein constituent - alpha-amylase - to enable the detection of various low-abundance biomarkers. Prof. Aaron Palmon of the dental medicine faculty presented it at the recent ILSI Biomed Israel 2008 conference Nava Swersky Sofer, president and CEO of Yissum (the university's technology transfer company) said the technology paves the way to a quick and efficient, non-invasive diagnostic tool, and will contribute to patient welfare. He also said he believes it carries significant commercial potential. Most molecules found in blood or urine can also be detected in the mouth, although usually at lower concentrations. Studies indicate saliva may therefore be useful for detecting various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, periodontal disease and other conditions, as well a host of infectious agents such as HIV. Obtaining saliva samples is a non-invasive, inexpensive and convenient procedure that can even be performed at home. However, a major hurdle is that saliva contains a high content of proteins whose function is to digest food. One protein, amylase, constitutes up to 60% of saliva proteins; its massive presence may mask the presence of other components and hamper certain diagnostic tests. Palmon and colleagues invented the device to remove amylase from whole saliva in a simple, single pass. The device takes advantage of modified potato starch, which is able to absorb large quantities of amylase. The 2007 global market for biomarkers was $5.6 billion, and it is expected to increase to over $12.8 billion by 2012. GIFTS TO SDEROT A delegation of leading North American emergency and trauma specialists recently dedicated two lifesaving contributions that their organization, American Physicians Fellowship (APF), has made to the southern development town of Sderot, which has long been under rocket attack from Gaza. The APF delegation, headed by vice president Dr. Mike Frogel, donated a large check to Magen David Adom's Rapid Response Center, and a fortified bus stop to the Sderot community. "Unfortunately, Sderot has taken the brunt of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians in recent years, and we have come to show our solidarity with these brave men, women and children, and to provide at least a small measure of our support which will strengthen their situation," said Frogel. APF brings trauma experts to Israel for advanced courses, and many members make a personal commitment to return immediately in the case of war or natural disaster. "Israel has earned global respect for its incomparable emergency medical care," Frogel noted. SMOKING DOESN'T MAKE YOU HAPPY Although some smokers claim their habit makes them happy, British scientists have found that lighting up does not bring psychological wellbeing. The team used data gathered from 9,176 never-smoking, ex-smoking and currently smoking people over 50 who are taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. Using a quality-of-life measure called the CASP-19, researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth found smokers experience lower average levels of life satisfaction than nonsmokers. The difference is even more pronounced in smokers from lower socioeconomic groups, UPI reported. "We found no evidence to support the claim that smoking is associated with pleasure, either in people from lower socioeconomic groups or in the general population," said study leader Dr. Iain Lang. "People may feel like they're getting pleasure when they smoke a cigarette, but in fact smokers are likely to be less happy overall; the pleasure they feel from having a smoke comes only because they're addicted."