Overview of Interests
The majority of Dr. Shelton's research has been focused on sleep problems in children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD). Many sleep disorders (OSA, nocturnal seizures, restless legs syndrome, etc) can lead to sleep fragmentation and thus sleep deprivation. Sleep fragmentation contributes to a myriad of behavioral, neuropsychological, and cognitive problems. Children with NDD, already vulnerable to these problems, are even more at risk if they have a coexisting sleep disorder. Her current research is aimed at developing care algorithms that improve positive airway pressure (PAP) adherence in children with OSA and NDD. Children with NDD often struggle with PAP adherence. While adenotonsillectomy (AT) is often the first line treatment for OSA in all children, many children continue to have OSA after surgery and are candidates for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP), a form of PAP therapy in which the child exhales against a lower pressure setting. The NDD population is particularly refractory to AT, where craniofacial anomalies, hypotonia, and obesity contribute to airway collapse independent of AT. The development of care algorithms leading to improved PAP adherence will have overall positive effects on health and behavior. Once these care algorithms are developed, Dr. Shelton's future work will evaluate their effectiveness and their impact on child health, child behavior, and family quality of life and resiliency.