Ward Laboratory

Research Topics

  • Sleep disorder breathing

  • Control of breathing

  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

  • Sleep disorder and obesity

Research Overview

We are studying obese teens to understand why they have different presentations of sleep disordered breathing even though they may have equal degrees of obesity. Our participants come to the sleep lab for an overnight sleep study where we characterize their type of sleep disordered breathing. Working with our collaborators, biomedical engineers, and physiologists, the children return for another overnight sleep study where we challenge their breathing and examine their physiologic responses to undergo different various physiologic challenges to determine why the child may have sleep apnea and another only snoring. We may predispose one child to sleep apnea and another to disrupted sleep. The same children after we characterize their physiology, undergo an dynamic MRI, which creates a movie during sleep of their upper airway. Their anatomy and their upper airway structure, and how that is impacted by obesity is closely studies by our team.

For each participant, we can put together the phenotype or type of sleep disordered breathing, their physiologic responses to challenges during sleep and their anatomy so we can understand the physiologic underpinnings of their specific type of breathing disorder. Our hope is that eventually we can use this information to design specific therapies for each type of breathing disorder for obese children..

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