Obstructive sleep apnea in children

Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2005 Sep;7(5):353-61. doi: 10.1007/s11940-005-0028-9.


Despite increasing recognition of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) as a significant public health problem, treatment of the condition remains inconsistent. Some children are screened using polysomnography and treated only when objective respiratory disturbances are identified. Many others receive adenotonsillectomy based only on signs and symptoms of upper airway obstruction without ever having a formal sleep study. Outcome-based data regarding the effectiveness of adenotonsillectomy, continuous positive airway pressure, and other treatments for childhood OSAS remain extremely limited. In this article, the major therapeutic options for treatment of childhood OSAS are reviewed. Adenotonsillectomy remains the most frequently used treatment for uncomplicated OSAS in children, but residual airway obstruction persists in a notable minority of patients. Nasal continuous positive airway pressure is used for children who are not good surgical candidates or who have failed previous surgical treatment, but is sometimes not tolerated by young children or their parents. Various alternative treatments are used on an individualized basis for children who cannot use the two first-line therapies for sleep apnea.