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Thorax. 2010 Nov;65(11):991-7. doi: 10.1136/thx.2010.134858.

Epidemiology of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome in Chinese children: a two-phase community study.

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Department of Paediatrics, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.



To determine the prevalence and risk factors of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) in Chinese children using a two-phase community-based study design.


Children from 13 primary schools were randomly recruited. A validated OSAS screening questionnaire was completed by their parents. Children at high risk of OSAS and a randomly chosen low-risk group were invited to undergo overnight polysomnographic study and clinical examination. The the sex-specific prevalence rate was measured using different cutoffs (obstructive apnoea hypopnoea index ≥ 1, ≥ 1.5, ≥ 3 and ≥ 5 and obstructive apnoea index ≥ 5) and risk factors associated with OSAS were evaluated with logistic regression.


6447 completed questionnaires were returned (out of 9172 questionnaires; 70.3%). 586 children (9.1%; 405 boys and 181 girls) children belonged to the high-risk group. A total of 619 (410 and 209 from the high and low-risk group, respectively) subjects underwent overnight polysomnagraphy. Depending on the cutoffs, the prevalence rate of childhood OSAS varied from 4.8% to 40.3%. Using the International Criteria of Sleep Disorders version II, the OSAS prevalence for boys and girls was 5.8% and 3.8%, respectively. Male gender, body mass index z-score and increased adenoid and tonsil size were independently associated with OSAS.


The prevalence rate of OSAS in children was contingent on the cutoff used. The inclusion of symptoms as a part of the diagnostic criteria greatly reduced the prevalence. A further prospective and outcome study is needed to define a clinically significant diagnostic cutoff for childhood OSAS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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