Research ties children with chronic illnesses who have sleep difficulties to increased healthcare utilisation

A recent study that looked at Medicaid claims data found that children with a chronic medical condition who also have a sleep disturbance are more likely to use the health care system more frequently.

The study discovered that children with a chronic medical problem were almost twice as likely to have greater health care utilisation (odds ratio = 1.83) compared to those without a sleep issue if they also had a confirmed sleep disorder.

Sleep-disordered breathing was the most often diagnosed sleep disorder in children, affecting 1,796 of them. The likelihood of increased health care utilisation was 1.5 times higher in those with sleep disordered breathing (OR=1.51). In order to account for possible confounders such as age, race, and long-term medical issues, the researchers modified their analysis.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s official journal, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, published the study’s findings on April 1.

Data on Illinois Medicaid claims for 16,325 children under the age of 18 were gathered by the researchers. The majority of the study participants were from low-socioeconomic ethnic minority groups, and the study population was primarily urban. Every child had one chronic medical issue, such as diabetes, obesity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, asthma, or obesity, and seventy-seven percent of the children had more than one chronic medical condition. Based on their hospitalisations and ED visits over the 12 months before to study enrollment, participants were categorised into three levels of health care utilisation.

Adavadkar pointed out that families with lower socioeconomic status—including those covered by the Medicaid insurance program—tend to bear the brunt of these costs, and that children with chronic medical issues tend to have disproportionately greater health care utilisation and costs. Treating comorbid sleep problems is therefore one way to lower these costs.

“Understanding the specific sleep disorders that significantly increase health care utilisation risk can inform targeted interventions and screenings for better management of these high-risk children,” Adavadkar stated.

The relationship between sleep disorders and health care utilisation may be much stronger than the study’s findings indicate, given the authors pointed out that sleep disorders are frequently underdiagnosed in paediatric populations.  All Blacks vs Fiji Rugby live online

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