We studied whether the beneficial effects of growth hormone (GH) treatment on growth and body composition in PWS are accompanied by an improvement in respiratory function. We measured resting ventilation, airway occlusion pressure (P(0.1)) and ventilatory response to CO(2) in nine children, aged 7-14 years, before and 6-9 months after the start of GH treatment. During GH treatment, resting ventilation increased by 26%, P(0.1) by 72% and the response to CO(2) by 65% (P < 0.002, <0.04 and <0.02, respectively). This observed increase in ventilatory output was not correlated to changes in body mass index.
Conclusion: Treatment of children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) seems to have a stimulatory effect on central respiratory structures. The observed increase in ventilation and inspiratory drive may contribute to the improved activity level reported by parents of PWS children during growth hormone therapy.