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Sleep complaints in survivors of pediatric brain tumors

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Pediatric brain tumor survivors have increased risk of sleep problems, particularly excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Few studies have examined sleep disturbances in this population.


153 children and adolescents ages 8–18 and their parents completed questionnaires (Modified Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Kosair Children’s Hospital Sleep Questionnaire, Children’s Report of Sleep Patterns, Children’s Sleep Hygiene Scale) during clinic visits. Participants were at least 5 years from diagnosis and 2 years post-treatment. Group differences in age at diagnosis, body mass index, type of treatment received, and tumor location were examined.


One-third of adolescents and one-fifth of children reported EDS. Children and parents had fair concordance (kappa coefficient = .64) in their report of EDS, while adolescents and parents had poor concordance (kappa coefficient = .37). Per parents, most children slept 8 to 9 h per night. Poor bedtime routines were reported for children, while adolescents endorsed poor sleep stability. Extended weekend sleep was reported across age groups. A BMI in the obese range was related to higher parent-reported EDS in children. Sleep-disordered breathing was associated with elevated BMI in adolescents.


While survivors reported achieving recommended amounts of sleep each night, 20 to 30 % reported EDS. Poor concordance among parent and adolescent report highlights the importance of obtaining self-report when assessing sleep concerns. Obesity is a modifiable factor in reducing symptoms of EDS in this population. Finally, the lack of association between EDS and brain tumor location, BMI, or treatment received was unexpected and warrants further investigation.

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Correspondence to Valerie McLaughlin Crabtree.

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Brimeyer, C., Adams, L., Zhu, L. et al. Sleep complaints in survivors of pediatric brain tumors. Support Care Cancer 24, 23–31 (2016).

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