In a paper published in Neurology, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia provide an overview of pediatric sleep medicine for the child neurology trainee seeking subspecialty fellowship opportunities.The authors emphasize the need for more child neurology trainees to enter a sleep medicine fellowship in an effort to improve the outcomes of children with neurologic disorders that may be linked to sleep disruption.
It was the development of the human EEG in the 1920s which led to modern sleep medicine gaining prominence as a scientific discipline. In 2018, an American Academy of Sleep Medicine compensation survey found that only 1.9% of respondents were certified in neurology with a special qualification in child neurology, with only 9% of respondents reporting that they only treated children.
According to the investigators, a child neurology-trained sleep medicine fellow can help meet a unique demand that is currently only being met by a limited number of physicians. Child neurology trainees who choose to specialize in sleep medicine can gain expertise at understanding positive airway pressure regimens and mechanical ventilation, acquire knowledge in sleep-related breathing patterns and their influence on the health of children with neurologic disorders, and learn how to diagnose and treat children with complex genetic and neurodevelopmental disorders who pressent with concomitant sleep disruptions.
Studies have explored the associations between circadian rhythms and seizures and there are ongoing research initiatives to identify the role of sleep in improving seizure outcomes in pediatric patients. There is clearly a considerable overlap between research in sleep medicine and neurology. This along with the need for more neurologists who have the expertise to treat sleep disorders in children, makes sleep medicine exposure in pediatric neurology trainees an important topic to bring to the attention of program directors.
Stowe RC, Elkhatib Smidt SD, Mason TA (2020) Emerging Subspecialties in Neurology: Sleep medicine fellowship after child neurology residency. Neurology 94 (6):278-281. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008759 PMID: 31992679.
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