• Parents have been encouraged by researchers to try the ‘controlled crying’ or ‘graduated extinction’ method to help their infants get to sleep sooner, and wake up fewer times during the night. Adelaide’s Flinders University tested controlled crying, as well as ‘bedtime fading’, where bedtimes are gradually pushed back, and found sleeping patterns improved without any significant side-effects.
• Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital is the first in Australia to have a dedicated paediatric music therapy service team inside a paediatric emergency unit to ensure young patients remain settled during procedures.
• Spending on specialist medicine services for palliative care has increased by nearly 80 per cent over the past five years, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report also revealed a nation-wide increase in the number of people admitted to both private and public hospitals to receive palliative care.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th of May 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Babies left to cry themselves to sleep may not suffer any chronic levels of stress, according to researchers at Adelaide’s Flinders University.
Parents have been encouraged by researchers to try the “controlled crying” or “graduated extinction” method to help their infants get to sleep sooner, and wake up fewer times during the night.
The university tested controlled crying, as well as “bedtime fading”, where bedtimes are gradually pushed back, and found sleeping patterns improved without any significant side-effects.
Dr Michael Gradisar said it was natural for parents to fret about the methods.
“Some people … get this advice that this is something that they shouldn’t do, they feel quite guilty about it and then when they want to actually go ahead and do it they feel really stressed even before they implement it,” Dr Gradisar told 891 ABC Adelaide.
“But our results show there’s no chronic levels of stress for the infant, which is good news.”
Forty-three infants past six months of age with sleeping problems were tested in the university’s study.
The researchers conducted salivary cortisol readings on the infants and did a 12-month follow-up, finding there were no significant differences in their stress levels or measurements of parent-child attachment.
Infants trained using the controlled crying method fell asleep on average 13 minutes sooner and woke up less often, while babies on the bedtime fading method fell asleep 10 minutes sooner, although still woke up as frequently as before.
“A combination of using bedtime fading first, then moving on to graduated extinction could be another good approach,” Dr Gradisar said.
“We hope parents of children 6-16 months can become more aware of bedtime fading which helps babies fall asleep at the start of the night.”
“It may not resolve awakenings during the night so if a child is waking up several times a night, then there is now some more evidence that graduated extinction is a technique that may not be harmful to their child.”
Dr Gradisar said similar studies suggested good results for controlled crying started to show after three nights.
But he urged parents to take care in case there was an underlying medical problem.
The results, and a suggested schedule for controlled crying, have been published in American journal Paediatrics.
The healing power of music is being harnessed in emergency rooms at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to ensure young patients remain settled during procedures.
The hospital is the first in Australia to have a dedicated paediatric music therapy service team inside a paediatric emergency unit.
Maggie Leung, clinical leader of the music therapy department, said the seven-member team helped children at crucial moments in theatre.
“When we know a child is in distress due to being scared, in pain or if a procedure needs to be done, our doctors call us in to help,” she said.
“We bring our guitar in and start singing to calm everyone down and it distracts the child so the doctor can start the procedure quickly.
“That allows the treatment to start and it improves efficiency and improves processing time to get the medicine into the child quicker.”
Ms Leung said the program followed on from the paediatric music therapy service established at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne more than two decades ago.
A general music therapy program has also been up and running in Brisbane for 21 years.
“Music therapy uses music as a powerful tool to engage different areas of our brain to drive outcomes,” Ms Leung told 612 ABC Brisbane’s Emma Griffiths.
“The outcomes include emotional benefits, physical benefits and social wellbeing.
“It makes people feel better — not just physically, but emotionally and socially as they feel connected.”
The children are visited by the music therapists at their bedside, often with a guitar or another instrument in hand.
Ms Leung is one of Australia’s only paediatric neurologic music therapists.
“I believe there’s more to music, and when I hear music I notice my heart rate decreases,” she said.
“From research and neuroscience, we know that music is one of the most powerful yet safe stimulation of all areas of our brain.
“For our kids here, it helps motivate them to get better.”
Spending on specialist medicine services for palliative care has increased by nearly 80 per cent over the past five years, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
In 2013-2014, $5.3 million in palliative care medicine services was paid from the Medicare Benefits Schedule, up from $3 million five years prior.
Spending remained relatively steady in 2014-15, at just over $5.3 million.
Acting head of the housing and specialised services group at AIHW, Tim Beard, said medicine services referred to anything used to help people “going through their final stages of life or a chronic disease”.
The report also revealed a nation-wide increase in the number of people admitted to both private and public hospitals to receive palliative care.
But in all states and territories public hospitals were responsible for the majority of palliative care patients.
Mr Beard said the demand was a reflection of Australia’s ageing population.