A sleep apnea test being referred to as “less stressful” for children was presented at the 2014 American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo. The meeting was held July 27 to 31 in Chicago.

Obstructive sleep apnea in children can lead to behavioral difficulties, learning disabilities, pulmonary/systemic hypertension, and decreased growth. However, the current gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea—the overnight sleep study—is labor intensive, expensive, and limited by availability, in addition to being a potentially traumatic experience for children, says Trevor Pitcher, PhD. At the AACC annual meeting, Pitcher, a clinical chemistry fellow at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, reported the results of research showing that an immunoassay can effectively detect in urine the stress-coping peptide urocortin 3, which is significantly increased in children with sleep apnea. This urine test could serve as a psychologically easier alternative to a child spending a night in a strange bed in a sleep clinic, he says.