Childhood sleep-disordered breathing severity related to tonsil size, oropharyngeal volume

Bethesda, MD Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during slumber, with sleep apnea the most recognizable form. Although SBD is commonly known to affect adults, few realize that about two percent of children are affected. The mechanisms of SDB during development are unclear.

To test a hypothesis that a child's anatomy specifically, their individual pharyngeal geometry and/or soft tissue anatomy -- correlates with the severity of SDB, a team of researchers has examined MRI images and other data gathered from a group of children 7-12 years of age with sleep-related respiratory disturbances of varying severity. The researchers found that children with a narrow "retropalatal air space," defined as the ratio of the retropalatal airway cross-sectional area (CSA) to the CSA of the soft palate, had significantly more apneas and hypopneas (abnormally slow, shallow breathing) during sleep than did the children with relatively unobstructed airways.

A New Study
The authors of the study, entitled "Sleep-Disordered Breathing, Pharyngeal Size, and Soft Tissue Anatomy in Children," are R.F. Fregosi, S.F. Quan, K.L. Kaemingk, W.J. Morgan, J.L. Goodwin, R. Cabrera, and A. Gmitro, all of the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Their findings appear in the online edition of November 2003 edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology. The Journal is one of 14 journals published each month by the American Physiological Society (APS.)

To test their premise that pharyngeal geometry and soft tissue dimensions correlate with the severity of sleep-disordered breathing in children, the researchers used the following methodology:

Participants: From an earlier study, the researchers randomly chose 10 children with a respiratory disturbance index (RDI) of <5 and 10 children with RDI values of >5. RDI was defined as the number of respiratory events (apneas and h

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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