Sleep and breathing in Prader-Willi syndrome

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2002 Sep;34(3):209-17. doi: 10.1002/ppul.10152.


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder, with hypotonia being the predominant feature in infancy, and developmental delay, obesity, and behavioral problems becoming more prominent in childhood and adolescence. Children with this disorder frequently suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness and have a primary abnormality of the circadian rhythm of rapid eye movement sleep. They also have primary abnormal ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia, and these abnormalities may be exacerbated by obesity. Children with PWS are at risk of a variety of abnormalities of breathing during sleep, including obstructive sleep apnea and sleep-related alveolar hypoventilation. Clinical evaluation should include a careful history of sleep-related symptoms and assessment of the upper airway and lung function. Polysomnography should be considered for those with symptoms suggestive of sleep-disordered breathing. Treatment options depend on the underlying problem, but may include behavioral interventions, weight control, adenotonsillectomy, and nocturnal ventilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hypoventilation / etiology
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Respiration Disorders / therapy
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Sleep Arousal Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy