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Sleep Breath. 2003 Dec;7(4):167-76.

Symptoms of sleep breathing disorders in children are underreported by parents at general practice visits.

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Centre for Sleep Research, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville, South Australia.


Sleep breathing disorders (SBD) in children are reportedly underdiagnosed in general practice. A contributory factor may be parental underreporting of symptoms. This possibility was examined by comparing the frequency with which snoring was mentioned at general practitioner visits by parents with frequency that snoring was reported on questionnaire evaluation immediately prior to consultation. We also examined the effects of age and gender on SBD symptoms. Parents of 626 children aged 0 to 16 years attending their general practitioner for sick child visits completed selected items from the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children and the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome Expanded Childhood Questionnaire. Parents and general practitioners were also asked if snoring was discussed at the current consultation visit or at a prior consultation visit in the previous 12 months. Eighteen percent (112 of 626) of children were frequent snorers (more than three times per week), whereas 0.6 to 5.0% of children snored and had one or more additional SBD symptom suggestive of obstructive sleep apnea. SBD symptoms tended to peak in early to middle childhood with few gender differences. We found that snoring was patently underreported by parents. In the children with a history of frequent snoring on questionnaire evaluation and where the reason for the consultation visit was documented, snoring was mentioned by parents at the current consultation visit in only 8% (8 of 100) of cases and at a prior consultation visit in only 15% (15 of 100) of cases. The present findings support a need for increased parental education regarding the symptoms and clinical significance of SBD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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