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Acta Paediatr. 2011 Apr;100(4):594-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2010.02078.x. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Nocturnal haemoglobin oxygen saturation variability is associated with vitamin C deficiency in Tanzanian children with sickle cell anaemia.

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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.



To compare pulse oximetry in children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) and controls and test the hypothesis that vitamin C deficiency (VCD; <11.4 μmol/L) is associated with nocturnal haemoglobin oxygen desaturation in SCA.


We undertook nocturnal and daytime pulse oximetry in 23 children with SCA (median age 8 years) with known steady-state plasma vitamin C concentrations and 18 siblings (median 7 years).


Median nocturnal delta 12 s index (delta12 s), a measure of haemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) variability, was 0.38 (interquartile range 0.28-0.51) in SCA and 0.35 (0.23-0.48) in controls, with 9/23 and 6/18, respectively, having a delta12 s >0.4, compatible with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Eleven of twenty-three with SCA had VCD; logged vitamin C concentrations showed a 66% decrease per 0.1 unit increase in delta12 s ([95% CI -86%, -15%]; p=0.023) and delta12 s >0.4 was associated with VCD (odds ratio 8.75 [1.24-61.7], p=0.029). Daytime and mean nocturnal SpO(2) were lower in SCA but there was no association with vitamin C.


Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), detected from nocturnal haemoglobin oxygen saturation variability, is common in Tanzanian children and associated with vitamin C Deficiency in SCA. The direction of causality could be determined by comparing OSA treatment with vitamin C supplementation.

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