Detection of sleep disturbances in a sample of Egyptian children attending a pediatric outpatient clinic

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Abstract

Background

Sleep problems are common presentations of patients in general medical practice. Evaluation of sleep problems in pediatric clinical settings is commonly lacking.

Aim

The aim of the work was to screen for the rate of sleep disturbance among Egyptian children in a pediatric outpatient clinic, find out medical and psychosocial factors related to the presence of sleep disturbance among medically ill children, and detect the relationship between medical illness and presence of sleep disturbance in children.

Methods

Parents of 4–12-year-old children were approached in two stages after obtaining informed consent. In the first stage, parents completed a validated sleep screening questionnaire, the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ), in addition to a complete medical assessment of the child. In the second stage, all children were subjected to psychiatric assessment. Those with high scores on the CSHQ equal to or above 41 (cutoff point) and those with abnormally high questionnaire subscale scores were further subjected to sleep history for assessment of sleep disturbances.

Results

A total of 146 children were recruited and divided into two medically diagnostic groups, acute and chronic. The overall sleep disturbance in the whole sample was 33.6% (n=49). The most common sleep disturbance found among this sample was parasomnia (25.3%), in particular mixed parasomnias (15.8%), followed by behavioral sleep disorders (6.8%). The mean total CSHQ severity scores were relatively higher in those with a chronic illness compared with those with an acute one.

Conclusion

Sleep problems are frequent among children seen at general pediatric outpatient clinics. The most important predictor for the presence of sleep problems in these children was the parasomnia subscale score followed by medical diagnostic category.

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