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Transforming sleep studies for vulnerable babies.

Transforming sleep studies for vulnerable babies.

A research study aiming to transform the way sleep studies are conducted for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has commenced at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH).

Consultant Neonatologist and lead researcher Dr Dimple Goel said the Chin up clinical study is investigating if sleep studies can be conducted within the NICU rather than transferring the baby to the sleep laboratory at PCH.

“Sleep studies are important investigations while managing babies with upper airway obstruction. However, the study is often delayed due to the complex needs of the babies and is disruptive for babies and parents,” Dr Goel said.

“Conducting the sleep study within the NICU will help us diagnose a condition faster with greater safety and accuracy to improve outcomes for the baby.”

Dr Goel – who has a special interest in sleep medicine – said the fact that parents can hold their baby throughout the procedure is another significant benefit of the study.

The Chin up study is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Neonatology, Respiratory, Genetics, Plastic surgery, Speech pathology and Ear, Nose and Throat specialities at PCH. The study is also using innovative 3D facial analytical tools to assess the severity of rare diseases with a focus on Pierre Robin Sequence (PRS). Dr Goel said babies with PRS often have a small or underdeveloped jaw and breathing difficulties. They require a detailed airway assessment for personalised care which can presently only be achieved effectively with a sleep study.

Mother Jodie with baby Marley.

Parents Jodie and Michael were the first participants to enrol in the study with their baby Marley. Jodie said participating in the study was an easy decision, with the benefits of a quicker diagnosis without having to leave the NICU.

Knowing the study could lead the way for this to become the normal process for other families was a great feeling. Being able to hold Marley while the study took place was also very comforting and made us feel part of Marley’s treatment, Jodie said.

The study will also be available to all babies who are admitted to NICU and require a sleep study to assess their breathing or airway. The Chin up study is aiming to recruit all PRS patients admitted to the NICU at PCH. 

The study is funded by Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation and supported by the Child and Adolescent Health Service.

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Lincoln and mum by the foreshore blowing bubbles together

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