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Sleep Med. 2012 Aug;13(7):810-5. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2012.03.014. Epub 2012 May 28.

Differential effects of sleep disordered breathing on polysomnographic characteristics in preschool and school aged children.

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The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Childhood sleep disordered breathing (SDB) peaks in the preschool years. We aimed to compare the effects of SDB on polysomnographic characteristics between preschool and school aged children.


One hundred and fifty-two preschool (3-5 y) and 105 school-aged (7-12 y) children, referred for assessment of SDB, plus controls (39, 3-5 y and 34, 7-12 y) with no history of snoring underwent overnight polysomnography. Subjects were grouped by their obstructive apnea hypopnea index (AHI) into those with primary snoring, mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and moderate/severe OSA. The effects of SDB severity on sleep architecture and respiratory characteristics were compared between the age cohorts using quantile regression.


There was an average reduction in median sleep efficiency of 3.5% (p=0.004) and an average increase in median WASO of 2% (p=0.08) between the age cohorts across the severity groups, with sleep efficiency falling and WASO increasing with increasing SDB severity in the school-aged, but not the preschool, cohort. There was an average difference in median central AHI of 0.6 events/h (p<0.001) between the age cohorts across the severity groups, with the 3-5 y old cohort but not the 7-12 y old cohort having more central apneas with increasing SDB severity.


We have demonstrated clinically important, age-related differences in sleep architecture in children with SDB. Preschool children with SDB maintain sleep efficiency and awaken fewer times throughout the night than do school aged children with a comparable severity of SDB, but experience more central apneas. This may have implications for the outcomes and treatment of SDB in children of different ages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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